27 critical access hospitals to know | 2024

Becker's Healthcare is pleased to name 27 critical access hospitals to know. 

These hospitals are vital components of the overall healthcare delivery system, providing quality care to the residents and visitors of rural areas. The small but mighty organizations are working to expand access to specialty care, cut down on patient travel times, and improve community health. 

Critical access hospitals are those that offer 24/7 emergency care and have no more than 25 inpatient beds. While compiling this list, the editorial team examined rankings and awards from several respected organizations, including Healthgrades, the National Rural Health Association and the Chartis Center for Rural Health.

Note: Becker's Healthcare developed this list based on nominations and editorial research. Organizations do not pay and cannot pay for inclusion on this list. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it an endorsement of the organizations mentioned. We extend a special thank you to Rhoda Weiss for her contributions to this list. Organizations are presented in alphabetical order.

For questions and comments on this list, contact Anna Falvey at afalvey@beckershealthcare.com.

Adventist Health Howard Memorial (Willits, Calif.). Adventist Health Howard Memorial, a 25-bed hospital tucked in the hills of Northern California, staffs 40 medical personnel and 350 associates. The hospital offers key services like a 24-hour emergency department, intensive care, laboratory, imaging, orthopedics, physical rehabilitation, surgery and retail pharmacy. The Redwood Medical Clinic is located on the same property and provides primary care, orthopedics, psychology and general surgery services for the community. Howard Memorial is one of only 30 hospitals in the U.S. to receive Planetree Gold certification, demonstrating its low readmission rates and its excellence in quality and safety. The hospital is also working towards its Planetree Gold with Distinction certification. In addition, they have a medication-assisted treatment program to help those with opioid use disorder. The hospital invested in advanced technology over the past year, bringing in Mako SmartRobotics technology for improved surgical care. The hospital received a Performance Leadership Award from The Chartis Center for Rural Health for 2022 as well as an Outstanding Patient Experience Award from Healthgrades for 2023.

Adventist Health Tillamook (Ore.). Adventist Health Tillamook is located between a coastal mountain range and a rugged coastline, isolated from major metropolitan amenities. The critical access hospital is devoted to innovative healthcare delivery, community engagement and clinical excellence. Using funds from the community and hospital associates, the hospital recently introduced a cutting-edge neonatal ICU telehealth robot, helping to bridge the gap in access to specialized neonatal care for newborns in the county. The hospital's philanthropic contributions exceed 9 million in-kind and financial donations, fuel programs and community health organizations. Efforts include weekly dinners to nourish those in need, education initiatives, and local wellness programs. Other hospital initiatives include hiring additional mental health providers and continuing its Blue Zone campus certification project. The Lown Institute Recognition for Social Responsibility has been awarded to the hospital for achieving "A" grades for health equity, value of care, patient satisfaction, community benefit, cost efficiency and avoiding overuse. 

Alice Hyde Medical Center (Malone, N.Y.). Located in one of New York’s most rural counties, Alice Hyde Medical Center is committed to providing high quality care to more than 55,000 residents. Alice Hyde is a 25-bed acute care facility that also includes four family health centers, a walk-in clinic, cancer center, orthopedic and physical rehabilitation center, cardiac rehabilitation unit and a dental center. The medical center provides a 24-hour physician-staffed emergency department, laboratory services, an array of surgical services, a wide range of outpatient services and access to numerous clinical specialties through its partnership with Burlington-based academic health system University of Vermont Health Network. As a critical access hospital, Alice Hyde offers sub-acute care to patients who meet specific criteria, reducing unnecessary transfers to skilled nursing facilities. In 2015, Alice Hyde also opened The Alice Center, a 135-bed skilled nursing facility with a 30-bed assisted living program. 

Ascension Borgess Allegan Hospital (Allegan, Mich.). Ascension Borgess Allegan Hospital has offered patients access to advanced specialty care for over 80 years. The hospital is a destination for orthopedics, cancer care, surgical services, primary care, laboratory, physical rehabilitation, radiology, sleep center and more. Recently, the hospital implemented new orthopedics and general surgery service lines. In 2023, the hospital opened a satellite clinic to provide access to specialized diabetes care. That same year, the hospital added swing beds. Ascension Borgess Allegan Hospital has also introduced onsite EMS occupancy, which is expected to generate $1.5 million new gross revenue annually. The Chartis Center for Rural Health recognized the hospital for its excellence in quality and outcomes for 2023.

Ascension St. Vincent Clay (Brazil, Ind.). Ascension St. Vincent Clay is associated with Ascension Indiana. The hospital's family medicine, internal medicine, pediatric, respiratory, and rehabilitation service lines provide patients with safe, high-quality care. In addition, the hospital offers imaging, lab tests and a 24/7 emergency department. Patients also have close-to-home access to orthopedic, urology, general, podiatry and gastrointestinal surgery care. The hospital is currently working to restore the ministry’s original hospital building, which was built in 1927.

Ascension St. Vincent Jennings (North Vernon, Ind.). 17-bed Ascension St. Vincent Jennings, associated with Ascension Indiana, offers 24/7 emergency care, family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. Patients benefit from imaging, lab tests, respiratory and rehabilitation services as well. In addition, surgery care is provided for patients with orthopedic, general and ophthalmological surgical needs. The hospital's geropsychology clinic provides outpatient mental health care for the rural area's senior population. In January 2024, Ascension St. Vincent Jennings opened a new pulmonary rehabilitation clinic after receiving a grant based on the needs of the community.

Ascension St. Vincent Randolph (Winchester, Ind.). Ascension St. Vincent Randolph is a designated level I perinatal center with a 24/7 emergency department, family medicine services, internal medicine care and pediatrics. The hospital provides surgical care in orthopedics, urology, general surgery, ENT, and obstetrics and gynecology. Ascension St. Vincent Randolph was recognized as an Indiana INspire Hospital of Distinction for 2023. This honor speaks to the hospital's success in safe sleep, breastfeeding, tobacco and perinatal substance use services. 

Ascension Standish (Mich.) Hospital. Ascension Standish Hospital comprises 25 inpatient beds, 29 skilled nursing beds, a level IV trauma center and various outpatient services. The hospital is the only critical access hospital in Michigan to receive a 5-star quality rating from CMS, a rating it has achieved for five years. As part of Ascension Michigan, Ascension Standish Hospital provides patients with onsite advanced specialty care like cardiology, neurosciences, orthopedics and oncology. The hospital was also among the first to adopt telehealth services for expanded access to stroke and behavioral healthcare. Recent accomplishments include the opening of a wound care center, the addition of a mobile mammography screening center with 3D technology, the implementation of an opioid prevention program, the launch of an adverse childhood events screening and referral program, and more. The Chartis Center for Rural Health has awarded the hospital a Performance Leadership Award in patient perspective and in quality in 2022-23. 

Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital (Lexington, Va.). Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital has built a reputation for providing top-tier care to its communities, resulting in a growth in services and in patient volumes. The hospital's patient admissions have risen by over 25%, and it now provides cardiology, urology, orthopedics, surgery, telecritical care, and teleneurology services. These results are coupled with an improvement in quality outcomes, including a 37% reduction in overall mortality and 41% in sepsis mortality. Recent accomplishments include upgrading the operating room suite to better meet community needs and launching a multidisciplinary mortality reduction program to improve mortality and embrace a zero harm culture. In 2023, the hospital's CMS star rating improved to a 4 from a 2. 

Cass Health (Atlantic, Iowa). Cass Health is an independent, full-service, 25-bed health system with over 420 employees, 80 providers and 100 volunteers. The system is the largest employer in its county and one of the largest critical access hospitals in the state. It sees over 1,000 inpatient admissions and more than 140,000 outpatient visits each year. In less than seven years, the system recruited over 70 new providers, nearly doubled patient volume, significantly improved market share, and underwent a $20 million remodel. Cass Health now offers nearly every available specialty, including rheumatology and infectious disease. In 2023, Cass Health was designated as a rural hospital Center of Excellence and given a $750,000 grant for providing maternal healthcare services to neighboring hospitals. It also received an $849,000 Iowa Workforce Development grant to establish a healthcare career registered apprenticeship program to assist 70 individuals in becoming nurses. Cass Health has been named a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital by the National Rural Hospital Association every year since 2021. 

Coffey County Hospital (Burlington, Kan.). Coffey County Hospital boasts 25 beds and 133 credentialed providers. Established 70 years ago, the rural hospital is currently focused on expanding care access for patients and forging partnerships with educational institutions to train future providers. Over the past year, the hospital completed the design and implementation of a new MRI suite, bringing additional prostate and breast services to patients. As a result, the hospital has seen an increase in referrals from urban providers. The hospital is also training its clinicians in dementia diagnosis and treatment, with a new program in partnership with the Kansas City-based University of Kansas Health System kicking off in October 2023. In addition to its traditional responsibilities as a critical access hospital, Coffey County is the designated emergency medical partner for the state's only nuclear generating station. The hospital was recognized by The National Rural Health Association as a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital for quality for 2022-23 and as a Performance Leader for excellence in quality for 2023.

Elizabethtown Community Hospital (Elizabethtown and Ticonderoga, N.Y.). With two hospitals and six community-based primary care health centers, Elizabethtown Community Hospital serves as the central source of healthcare delivery for local residents and visitors to the Adirondack Park wilderness. The hospital offers two 24-hour physician-staffed emergency departments, a 25-bed inpatient unit, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, radiology, laboratory, chemotherapy, infusion, cardiology, gynecology, gastroenterology, oncology, orthopedics, women’s health and pulmonary specialty care. Elizabethtown Community Hospital and its network partner hospital, Malone, N.Y.-based Alice Hyde Medical Center, are the only two federally-designated critical access hospitals north of Albany and east of Lake Ontario. The hospital is a healthcare partner of Burlington-based The University of Vermont Health Network, a nonprofit academic health system that serves nearly one million people.

Essentia Health–Moose Lake (Minn.). Essentia Health-Moose Lake brings expert care close to patients' homes through specialty services including cardiology, dermatology, general surgery, gastroenterology, medical and surgical orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, podiatry, rheumatology, sleep medicine, urology and pain management. In 2021, the 25-bed hospital invested $2.5 million into renovations of the clinic and urgent care, creating a new patient entry, 14 exam rooms, two procedure rooms and two telehealth rooms. The hospital also recently began using the da Vinci Xi surgical system to provide minimally invasive, robot-assisted surgical care. The hospital, located in a region known for recreational opportunities, staffs board-certified emergency medicine physicians who are prepared to provide lifesaving care when accidents happen. Over the course of the last fiscal year, the hospital saw nearly 120,000 clinic encounters, its community contributions committee donated $59,624 to Moose Lake-area organizations, and its employees tallied 413 volunteer hours. The team also operates the Essentia Health-Moose Lake Fitness Center and Essentia Health-Moose Lake Foundation in support of the community.

Ferrell Hospital (Eldorado, Ill.). Ferrell Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital committed to self-improvement. The hospital has grown to over 40 providers and introduced various service lines in recent years, including surgery, cardiology, oncology, pulmonology, ENT, rheumatology, orthopedics and urology. It also entered a partnership with Cancer Pathways Midwest in 2022. Ferrell has undergone a physical expansion journey as well, evolving from 33,000 square-feet to 88,000 square-feet to meet the needs of its community. In 2023, the hospital was recognized for its efforts towards patient satisfaction with a 5-star CMS rating. In addition, the hospital was recognized as one of the nation's top 10% of critical access hospitals, earning the title of high-achieving HCAHPS hospital from the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network. It was also highlighted in both 2022 and 2023 by CHIME for its investments in innovation. 

Geisinger Jersey Shore (Pa.) Hospital. The 25-bed Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital is part of Geisinger Health, a 10-hospital healthcare system. The facility offers an array of acute care and outpatient services, including numerous specialists, clinics, inpatient surgery, rehabilitation and diagnostic imaging services. The hospital is a designated advanced primary stroke center as well as a level IV trauma Center. Hospital leadership and staff have a deep passion for community engagement and outreach. The hospital has been a key partner in the development of a regional mobile food pantry addressing food insecurity needs. Additional community initiatives include a focus on agricultural safety, trauma education, preventative health screenings, and overall access to healthcare. Geisinger Jersey Shore was awarded the Chartis Center 2023 Performance Leadership Award. CMS recently recognized the hospital as the only critical access hospital in the region to receive a 5-star rating in patient satisfaction, and as one of the best hospitals for nursing communication.

Higgins General Hospital (Bremen, Ga.). Part of Carrollton, Ga.-based Tanner Health System, 25-bed Higgins General Hospital serves the communities in rural Haralson, Paulding and Polk counties. It is the only critical access hospital in the state accredited as a primary stroke center. The hospital features a recently expanded outpatient surgical services unit, a comprehensive inpatient rehab program, numerous specialties and more. Press Ganey awarded the hospital with its Human Experience Pinnacle of Excellence Award in 2022-23. 

Jamestown (N.D.) Regional Medical Center. Jamestown Regional Medical Center, an independent critical access hospital with 25 beds, moved to a new campus in July 2011 and has added various specialty services since. Additions include ENT, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, podiatry, urology, a wound care and hyperbarics center, and audiology. The hospital also increased its number of emergency medicine providers, who see over 10,000 emergency room visits a year. The hospital has partnered to open an oncology clinic and in 2024 it initiated the development of a women's health walk-in clinic and lactation counseling. Jamestown Regional was the first in the state to have 3D mammography and hyperbaric chamber therapy, among other innovations. The National Rural Health Association has named the hospital a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital overall winner for four consecutive years since 2020. 

Margaretville Hospital (Valhalla, N.Y.). The 15-bed Margaretville Hospital has been providing care to its community for over 80 years. The hospital is fully accredited and equipped with emergency care, laboratory testing, medical imaging, physical and occupational therapy, swing bed rehabilitation programs, respite care, and board certified specialists. Recent accomplishments include the addition of a teletrauma service line and the success of its addiction services program, which helped reverse more than 100 potentially fatal opioid overdoses over the span of one year. In September 2022, Margaretville Hospital was chosen to direct the Catskills Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Consortium, which features pre-pregnancy education, peer counseling, medication-assisted addictions treatment and other services. In 2023, the hospital learned it would receive federal funding to expand EMS training opportunities and close gaps in lifesaving care. In February 2024, Margaretville Hospital was re-accredited for its excellence and compliance with Medicare Conditions of Participation for Critical Access Hospitals. 

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (Oak Bluffs, Mass.). Founded in 1921, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is a critical access, nonprofit, community hospital. It is located seven miles out to sea and is only accessible by boat or air. A member of Boston-based Mass General Brigham system, the hospital provides extensive acute, ambulatory and specialty services onsite and through its system affiliation. It has added more than 38 new clinical specialties to meet increasing demand, saving patients difficult off-island travel. Expanded primary care services have resulted in access for more than 1,200 new patients, reducing a previously 1,000-person waiting list. A $22 million campaign to address the critical need for workforce housing has resulted in a 48-unit residential site with two apartment buildings, one town house, and four duplexes. The hospital also supports the island’s only skilled nursing facility, which cares for 30 residents, and is currently transitioning the facility to a new small home model with a 66-bed capacity. Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has been recognized by the Commonwealth Institute for the past three years as one of the Top 100 Women-led Businesses in Massachusetts and as a top hospital for obstetrics, orthopedics and mammography by Women’s Choice Awards for 2022.

Mee Memorial Healthcare System (King City, Calif.). Mee Memorial features 25 acute care beds, as well as 48 skilled nursing beds. The organization's mission is to provide high-quality care to its rural patient population. In pursuit of this goal, the hospital has been enhancing its service offerings through the renovation of its emergency and diagnostic imaging departments, and through the addition of a pediatric health and wellness center. The organization is also focused on community outreach, engaging the broader community with diabetes education and initiatives because diabetes has been pinpointed as a significant community concern. Mee Memorial Healthcare System has also been chosen to participate in the Rural Healthcare Provider Transition Project, which will prepare it for alternative payment and care delivery models. 

Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center (Windsor, Vt.). Since its establishment in 1933, Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center has rooted itself in its rural communities and developed a reputation for patient-centered care. Over the past few years, the hospital has instituted key administrative roles and programs like director of quality and safety, director of community health, and a hospitalist program. In 2023, walk-in services were expanded from half-day hours to full-day hours for the work week and six advanced practice providers were recruited, as well as a general surgeon. Thanks to the hospital's affiliation with Lebanon, N.H.-based Dartmouth Health, Dartmouth Health Ophthalmology recently began providing surgical services at the hospital as well. The hospital consistently ranks among the highest in patient satisfaction categories in the annual Vermont Department of Health Hospital report cards. In the most recent Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems score, the hospital was the highest performing in Vermont, with scores well above the national average. Mt. Ascutney Hospital was named a Best-In-State Hospital by Newsweek for 2024.

OSF HealthCare Saint Luke Medical Center (Kewanee, Ill.). The 25-bed Saint Luke Medical Center is part of OSF HealthCare, a 16-hospital system. The hospital offers an array of acute care and outpatient services, including various specialists, rehabilitation and diagnostic imaging services. The hospital’s 24-hour physician-staffed emergency department saw a combined 21,312 patients and served a combined 31,445 patients during fiscal year 2022-23. The women’s health and prenatal services administered 1,705 free flu shots to school-aged children and teachers in during the same time period. The hospital also installed a community Blessing Box filled with non-perishable food and hygiene items for those in need, provided coping strategies workshops to over 300 students, and inaugurated an innovation hub for employees and community members to collaborate and brainstorm health care solutions. The Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network acknowledged OSF Saint Luke with the 2022 Quality of Care Outcomes and Top Performance award. In January 2024, the National Rural Rating System awarded it a 4-star rating. The hospital was further recognized by the Chartis Center for Rural Health as a top performer in outcomes and patient perspective. It was also recognized as a Pillar Award winner for an innovative transportation project that benefitted a combined 3,600 residents during fiscal year 2022-23. 

Ochsner St. Anne Hospital (Raceland, La.). Ochsner St. Anne Hospital, part of New Orleans-based Ochsner Health, staffs skilled physicians and specialists who provide life-saving care at the 24-hour full-service emergency department, stroke care unit, intensive care unit, and multiple surgical specialty services. Surgical specialty services include general surgery, orthopedics, pain management and urology. Additionally, the hospital offers maternity suites, behavioral health services and many advanced medical technologies like MRI, digital and 3D mammography, and low-dose computed tomography. The hospital also offers full lab services, an infusion center and a wound care clinic. Ochsner St. Anne was recognized by the Chartis Center for Rural Health as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the U.S. for 2022.

Parkview LaGrange (Ind.) Hospital. Parkview LaGrange Hospital, part of the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Parkview Health system, is one of the state's 35 critical access hospitals. The hospital includes an emergency department, operating room, inpatient care facilities, radiology, laboratory and many specialty medical services. It also offers outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech pathology, as well as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. In addition, its LifeBridge senior program offers outpatient behavioral health services for seniors, while its medical detox services provide voluntary and discreet medical care for community members ready to begin detox from alcohol and other substances. Parkview LaGrange also runs a transitional care and swing bed program. The hospital was recognized for the second consecutive year in 2023 with the Chartis Center for Rural Health Performance Leadership Award for quality and outcomes. 

Perry County Memorial Hospital (Tell City, Ind.). The 25-bed Perry County Memorial Hospital finished 2023 with a $3 million bottom line, a $5 million turnaround over the previous three-year average loss of $2 million a year. Using the additional income, the hospital implemented a 24/7 armed security service, expanded the local EMS services, added ICU and cardiac rehab service lines, and established an internship program for students with disabilities. These accomplishments followed a deadly shooting on the hospital campus in July of 2023, which the community banded together to heal from. Moving into 2024, the hospital is acquiring a local medical practice in a neighboring county and is considering adding an observation unit to expand its inpatient census. The hospital's other plans include forming a geriatric psych unit, directly contracting with local factories for occupational health services, expanding telehealth services into telepsych and telestroke, and expanding coverage to include bone health, ENT, general surgery and oncology. 

Porter Medical Center (Middlebury, Vt.). Founded in 1925, Porter Medical Center is a community healthcare provider with just over 700 employees and approximately 192,000 patient encounters each year. It operates a 25-bed acute care facility and a 105-bed skilled nursing facility, which includes a memory care unit, short-term rehabilitation unit and long-term care unit. It also offers a network of primary care and specialty medical practices, inpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, an infusion center and an express care facility. Porter earned a 5-star rating from CMS in 2023 and is a health care partner of Burlington-based The University of Vermont Health Network, a non-profit academic health system.

University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown is the first hospital in the state to receive a Maryland Rural Hospital designation. The hospital earned this distinction through its achievement of geriatric emergency department accreditation, its designation as an Age Friendly Health System and its membership in Healthy People 2030. The hospital's community outreach team collaborates with partners to offer home safety inspections, advance directives preparation assistance, blood pressure checks, health screenings, chronic illness case management, wellness activities, and telehealth consultation arrangements. The team made 920 home visits in 2023. The hospital also has a health education program that provides free community health education classes. In addition, a remote patient monitoring program was launched in February 2024, giving providers access to health information that keeps patients healthier at home.

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