About Acute Care Hospitals

Acute care hospitals may offer inpatient services, outpatient services, continuous nursing services, pharmacy services, food services and necessary ancillary services.

These hospitals may offer specialized patient care services including:

  • Surgery and interventional services
  • Obstetrical and nursery services
  • Intermediate care nurseries
  • Neonatal intensive care nurseries
  • Emergency care units or services
  • Critical care units or services
  • Intensive care
  • Cardiology services
  • Renal dialysis services
  • Pediatric care services
  • Long-term care services
  • Hospice units
  • Alcoholism and/or chemical dependency units or services
  • Rehabilitation units
  • Radiology and imaging services
  • Psychiatric and mental health service
  • Oncology services
  • Laboratory services

Critical Access Hospitals

Acute care hospitals with fewer than 25 beds in rural areas may be federally designated as critical access hospitals (CAH). CAHs are often the central hub of health services in their communities, providing primary care, long-term care, physical and occupational therapy, cardiac rehabilitation and other services in addition to emergency and acute care. Hospital staff members provide these services either directly or in partnership with other community providers.

More information about critical access hospitals is on the department's Rural Health webpage.

For more information about Medicare certification for CAHs, contact the Medicare Program in the agency's Office of Investigation and Inspection.

Certificate of Need Program

The Certificate of Need (CON) Program is a component of the regulated healthcare industry, ensuring healthcare facilities and services are developed in Washington as needed. Acute care hospitals may require CoN approval before starting a service, adding to an existing facility, or constructing a new facility. More information about CoN is on the department's Certificate of Need webpage.