What is a Critical Access Hospital?

To establish a Critical Access Hospital designation, a hospital must:

  • Be located in a state that is identified to have a State Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program
  • Be designated by the state as a Critical Access Hospital
  • Be located in a rural area or be treated as rural area
  • Provide 24-hour emergency care services seven days a week
  • Retain no more than 25 inpatient beds (beds may also be used for swing bed services)
  • Provide acute inpatient care for a period that does not exceed 96 hours per patient on an annual averaged basis
  • Demonstrate compliance with the Critical Access Hospital Conditions of Participation
  • Be located more than 35 miles from any hospital or other Critical Access Hospital or be located more than a 15-mile drive from any hospital or Critical Access Hospital in an area with mountainous terrain