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Critical Access Hospital Defined

PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center is a critical access hospital (CAH), which allows us to provide better access to more services, in a safer and more comprehensive setting for patients of all ages in San Juan County.

Federal legislation enacted in 1997 authorized states to establish CAHs in rural communities in order to assure the economic viability and quality of medical care in rural communities. These facilities are limited service facilities with flexible staffing and service requirements

Critical Access Hospital Requirements

  • Maintain no more than 25 beds (PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center has 10 beds)
  • Keep patients hospitalized no more than an average of 96 hours
  • Provide 24 hour emergency care
CAHs are licensed by the state and assigned a Critical Access Hospital Medicare reimbursement designation. This is key because Rural Health Clinics (including Inter Island Medical Center) are reimbursed as a doctor’s office visit. CAHs receive 101% cost reimbursement for all in and outpatient services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. This often results in a doubling or tripling of the reimbursement paid by Medicare for each service type. Better reimbursement means more monies available for serving all patients in the facility.
Higher reimbursement directly translates into quality staff, state-of-the-art equipment and significantly increased medical services while maintaining financial sustainability.


PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center's Role

PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center operates as part of the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center​ network of care, which includes a not-for-profit full-service hospital sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, and is part of the PeaceHealth system with medical centers in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. In addition to the hospital and PeaceHealth Medical Group, PeaceHealth’s services in Northwest Washington include several Centers of Excellence, North Cascade Cardiology, a diagnostic laboratory, a joint venture outpatient imaging service and a specialty clinic in Sedro-Woolley.