Critical Access Hospitals are an essential part of the rural health care fabric across America. In 1997, the Federal Critical Access Hospital Program was developed to help ensure that residents of small rural communities have access to hospitals. There are several criteria which define what is, and what is not, a Critical Access Hospital, but, in general, these facilities can have a maximum of 25 inpatient beds, have a maximum average length of stay of patients of 96 hours and must provide 24 hour emergency department services, along with some additional criteria.
While the long-term sustainability of these facilities is currently in question, we had some good news recently here in Arizona where the Florence Community Healthcare in Florence, Arizona has received the official Critical Access Designation. This is good news for the residents of Florence and surrounding areas. The staff here at the Center for Rural Health worked with the hospital adminsitrators for months in preparing and submitting the application for designation. Their work will have a direct impact in the long-term sustainability of the hospital and access to care for the Florence, AZ community.
For more information about the hospital, please see their website: http://www.florencecommunityhealthcare.com/