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Pennock awarded Critical Access Hospital designation

Joan Van Houten Staff Writer: The Critical Access Hospital Designation recently was granted to Spectrum Health Pennock by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The CAH designation is given to eligible rural hospitals.

“This is a designation Spectrum Health Pennock achieved that will ensure Pennock Hospital provides the highest quality of care into the foreseeable future by reducing the gap between the cost of care and reimbursement received,” Spectrum Health Pennock Marketing manager Janine Dalman said.

The Critical Access Hospital designation was created by Congress in 1997 in response to a string of rural hospital closures during the 1980s and early 1990s.

The designation is designed to reduce financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to health care by keeping essential services in rural communities. CAHs receive certain benefits, such as cost-based reimbursement for Medicare services. Also in 1997, Congress created the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program providing grants to support new and existing CAHs.

“An additional benefit of pursuing CAH status was the conversion of any semi-private patient rooms into private rooms, which enhances patient satisfaction and privacy, reduces noise for the patients and improves infection control measures,” Dalman said.

To be eligible, hospitals must have 25 or fewer beds, be located more than 35 miles from another hospital, maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients, and provide around-the-clock emergency care seven days a week.

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