Medical Center of Peach County

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The Medical Center of Peach County has been designated a Critical Access Hospital by the Office of Rural Health Policy, part of The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Critical Access Hospital Program was created by the 1997 federal Balanced Budget Act as a safety net device to assure Medicare beneficiaries access to health care services in rural areas. It was designed to allow hospitals more flexible staffing options based on community need, simplify billing methods and to provide financial incentives to help rural hospitals stay in business.

Some of the requirements for CAH certification include having no more than 25 inpatient beds; maintaining an annual average length of stay of no more than 96 hours for acute inpatient care; offering 24-hour,seven-day-a-week emergency care; and being located in a rural area, at least 35 miles drive away from any other hospital or CAH (fewer in some circumstances).

The limited size and short length of stays are meant to encourage smaller hospitals to provide care for common conditions and outpatient care, while referring other conditions to larger hospitals. Certification allows CAHs to receive cost-based reimbursement from Medicare, instead of standard fixed reimbursement rates. This reimbursement has been shown to improve the financial performance of small rural hospitals that were losing money prior to CAH conversion, thus reducing hospital closures.