Small-scale inpatient facilities, known in the industry as micro-hospitals, are popping up across the country to offer medical care in underserved communities and provide a local alternative to the potentially long waits for emergency care at major hospitals.
The size of small ambulatory-surgery centers, micro-hospitals have an average of eight to 10 short-stay beds each and provide some of the simpler acute and emergency services commonly performed in much bigger hospitals.
Already in 19 states, according to company research, these hospitals continue to grow and are becoming a trend in health care. One of the most noteworthy aspects of this trend is that it’s unfolding In the midst of the biggest upheaval in health care in decades, with health reform proposals swirling in Washington and hospitals and other facilities merging into ever-expanding systems. Nevertheless, health officials say, micro-hospitals fill a critical gap.
“We can offer quick service for any type of problem that walks through the door, you will receive the same care you would in a large facility,” says Dr. James Nichols, medical director at Baylor Emergency Medical Center at Aubrey, Texas.
However, critics are wary about the facilities and safety they provide to the patients and how much experience doctors get while practicing in such a small facility.
Countless medical studies show that the results achieved in any medical setting vary – and patients treated by doctors who perform more procedures fare better than those treated by doctors who do too few to sustain their proficiency.
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