What Is a Hospital?


A hospital is a medical institution that houses a range of departments for the treatment of various ailments and illnesses. A hospital is equipped with the latest technology and instruments for diagnosis and treatment of patients. It is staffed by highly trained medical personnel like doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners. Moreover, hospitals are also equipped with support services like food service, housekeeping and laundry, security, engineering, materials and supplies, and protection.

A patient comes to a hospital when he or she is suffering from illness or injury that requires immediate medical attention. Depending on the severity of the illness or injury, some patients may leave immediately after getting treated or may stay in the hospital for several days, weeks or even months (referred to as inpatients).

Hospitals can be categorized by their ownership structure, namely for-profit, not-for-profit or government owned. Privately owned hospitals are those that have shareholders and primarily focus on profitability. On the other hand, not-for-profit hospitals are those that do not distribute profits to their shareholders. However, they are still required to maintain financial viability and can invest surplus funds in new equipment or staff.

Publicly owned hospitals are those that operate via grants and other government funding and tend to have more restrictions, but are able to reach populations that otherwise would not be able to afford healthcare. These hospitals are often referred to as safety net hospitals or community hospitals.

Specialized hospitals offer a range of healthcare services for specific conditions like cancer, heart, eye and ear diseases, among others. Such hospitals attract physicians who have a particular interest in such diseases and seek to treat them with utmost care and compassion.

The word hospital derives from a Latin phrase meaning “place of hospitality.” In the past, most of these hospitals were run by members of religious orders or volunteers. Today, most hospitals are staffed by professional physicians, surgeons, nurses and allied healthcare practitioners. In some countries, certain Christian religious orders such as the Alexians and the Bon Secours Sisters continue to focus on hospital ministry.

Whether they are small or large, urban or rural, the best hospitals always put their patients first. They understand that their patients come to them at a vulnerable time in their lives and they are looking not only for treatment, but comfort. They want to know that their doctors and nurses are there for them, that they will communicate with them openly and honestly, and that they will treat them as they would treat their own family members. This is the kind of hospital that every patient deserves. So what are you waiting for? Choose your hospital carefully!

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