The Importance of Critical Access Hospitals

by | Oct 4, 2023

Rural health care is hard to do right.

Healthcare professionals know it. Communities realize it, too.

Congress recognized the issue in 1997 after hundreds of rural hospitals closed in the 1980’s and 1990’s. To help with the financial challenges of rural healthcare and to improve access to quality healthcare across rural America, Congress developed the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation.

A Critical Access Hospital has under 25 or fewer “acute care” beds and is more than 35 miles away from the next closest hospital. A Critical Access Hospital must also maintain an average of 96 hours or less for acute care patients.

Along with good schools and attractive parks, access to quality health care signals a community’s strength and vitality.

The federal government deems them so necessary that the funding formulas for services provided at Critical Access Hospitals recognize the additional challenges of providing healthcare services in a rural setting.

At Peak Health Alliance, we are proud to have relationships with Critical Access Hospitals in many of the nine counties we serve.

Those include St. Vincent Health in Lake County, Middle Park Health in Grand County, and Pagosa Springs Medical Center in Archuleta County. We fully expect to add more Critical Access Hospitals as our conversations with hospitals and medical care professionals continue (and before the 2024 plan year begins).

Access to quality healthcare is a critical factor in the decision-making of individuals considering moving to a rural setting. The same is true for a business that might seek to relocate. Employers need reliable medical care in the community to attract quality employees. Parents want their children to go to good doctors and at some point in life everyone needs access to quality specialty care and hospitals.

Colorado needs rural communities to flourish. Healthcare is a fundamental component of any community’s success. At Peak Health Alliance, we celebrate our partnerships with all those, including Critical Access Hospitals, who have leaned in to support the cause.

Watch our entire network comes together, in partnership with Elevate Health Plans, as the open enrollment period approaches (starting Nov. 1) for 2024! Follow us on Facebook or visit our website to learn more.