What is a Critical Access Hospital?
The federal “Critical Access Hospital” program is designed to make sure that people on Medicare have access to healthcare services in rural areas. A hospital designated as a CAH receives a higher payment from Medicare for services it provides, therefore helping the hospital maintain its high quality care. The CAH program requires that a hospital limit the number of in-patients it serves and the length of time inpatients may stay, in addition to other regulations.
In Washington State, the Critical Access Hospital program is administered by the Department of Health. United General Hospital was awarded CAH status in 2004.
Other critical access hospitals in the Northwest include Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville and Jefferson General Hospital in Port Townsend.