Purpose: Educational Release  

Date: 08/23/2022 


Seneca Healthcare District is a Critical Access Hospital (CAH). CAHs are designated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, under the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program to ensure that rural beneficiaries are able to access hospital services. CAHs must be located in a rural area and be more than 35 miles from another hospital or have been certified before January 1, 2006, by the State as being a necessary provider of health care services. Additionally, to be considered a CAH the hospital must meet criteria which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Have 25 or fewer acute care inpatient 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
  • Provide 24/7 emergency care services

Critical access hospitals are important because they offer more affordable, accessible healthcare to individuals living in rural areas. Almost one-fifth of the US population lives in rural areas. Less expensive and more convenient care is crucial. CAHs offer vital services in these areas and serve as the foundations of rural health care delivery systems. Without CAHs, residents of rural areas would face barriers when accessing health care services, including traveling long distances to seek care. Since CAHs are often the sole local source of patient care in rural communities, they are more likely to offer additional services that otherwise would not be accessible to residents.