by Nhi Dam / 6 minutes read

Healthcare Facilities in California: Comprehensive guide 2022

Are you a new resident looking explore the healthcare facilities system in California? Or have you been here for long but are still clueless as to what are available and how you can make use of the facilities? In this article, we aim to provide a definition for “healthcare facilities”, categorize them and enlist their distribution so that you could make an informed decision about medical care.

What is considered a healthcare facility in California?

The term "health facility" refers to any location, place, or structure that is organized, maintained, and run for the diagnosis, care, prevention, and treatment of human illness, whether it be physical or mental, including convalescence and rehabilitation and care during and after pregnancy, or for any one or more of these purposes, for one or more people, and includes the following kinds of facilities:

"General acute care hospital" …

  • "Acute psychiatric hospital" …
  • "Skilled nursing facility" …
  • "Intermediate care facility" …
  • "Intermediate care facility/developmentally disabled habilitative" facility …
  • "Special hospital" …
  • "Intermediate care facility/developmentally disabled" …
  • "Intermediate care facility/developmentally disabled –nursing" …
  • "Congregate living health facility" …
  • "Correctional treatment center" …
  • "Nursing facility" …
  • "Chemical dependency recovery hospital" …
Nursing house is a healthcare facility
Nursing house is a healthcare facility (Source: Internet)

What are the five types of healthcare facilities?

Since there are many things that can be considered a healthcare facility, they can be categorized into 5 groups with a detailed description of each group. With this information, we believe you will have a more systematic view of the system and make better choices.


Hospitals are available 24/7, 7 days a week. They provide highly technologically equipped care and treatment to people with injuries, diseases, or genetic anomalies, done by specialty physicians, nurses, medical technicians and healthcare administrators. Patients are treated as inpatients or outpatients depending on their issues. The range of services varies across different hospitals.

Ambulatory surgical center

Ambulatory surgical centers provide affordable operations that require fewer skills than those need to be done in hospitals, yet too complex to be held in a usual doctor’s office. They also provide basic aftercare for the first few hours of post-surgery as the operations they hold often leave effects that do not require intensive monitoring.

Doctor’s office

Doctor’s office is a medical facility that provides treatment and care for severe illnesses that do not require immediate and complex intervention. There are usually one to a few general practitioners that take charge of the service and they focus on one type of medicine and a common specialty. Besides the main practitioners, there are often nurses and other assisting staff to help with the procedures.

Urgent care clinic

Urgent care clinics, or walk-in clinics are facilities where you can come to check in simple health issues, such as sprained ankles or stomache virus, etc, without booking an appointment in advance. Note that urgent care clinics are not and do not have the same function as hospital’s emergency room. If you have more complex and serious issues such as chest pain or broken bones, you should go to the hospitals as urgent care clinics do not and are unable to cover those problems.

Nursing home

Nursing homes provide 24/7 medical care for cases that need constant monitoring but don’t need to be hospitalized. They have physicians, nurses and therapists that not only support with medical issues but also help with basic tasks for patients with health issues who have difficulties carrying those tasks, including feeding, bathing, dressing. Therefore, this type of facility is best suitable for the elderly who need custodial care in a residential facility. However, people of all ages are welcome.

Types of facilities are divided according to the complexity and intensity of the medical issues
Types of facilities are divided according to the complexity and intensity of the medical issues (Source: Internet)

What are the three levels of healthcare facility?

Healthcare facilities are divided into 3 main levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary, defined by the level of care needed, the quality of the medical practitioners, and the authority in charge.

The primary level of care

  • Available at cities’ and municipalities’ levels.
  • The first contact point between citizens and other levels of facilities.
  • Given by center physicians, public health nurses, rural health midwives, and traditional healers.

Secondary level of care

  • Municipal, district hospitals, out-patient departments, usually privately or governmentally owned.
  • Given by physicians with basic training, specialists in health facilities.

Tertiary level of care

  • Referral system for secondary facilities.
  • Deal with complex issues and intensive care.
  • Including medical centers, regional and provincial hospitals, specialized hospitals.
Healthcare facilities have 3 levels: primary, secondary and tertiary
Healthcare facilities have 3 levels: primary, secondary and tertiary (Source: Internet)

How many healthcare facilities are there in California?

There are over 39000 health clinics all over California, including 2,100 retail clinics, 10,600 urgent care clinics, 14,100 FQHCs, 4,700 rural health clinics, and 7,600 renal dialysis facilities. Out of these, there are 570 hospitals, 122 of whic are goverment-operated, another 148 are privately owned.

There is a dense population of healthcare facilities in California
There is a dense population of healthcare facilities in California (Source: Internet)

How many long term healthcare facilities are there in California?

Nursing facilities, or “skilled nursing facilities” (SNFs), “nursing homes,” rehabilitation centers" or “convalescent hospitals" provide long-term care for the chronically ill or short term residents of all ages. Currently, approximately 1230 licensed long-term care nursing facilities are documented in California. They all receive comprehensive monitoring from the state and federal authority to make sure the medical care and facility operations are qualified.

Nursing facilities are available in large number in California
Nursing facilities are available in large number in California (Source: Internet)

Who regulates healthcare facilities in California?

California state government regulates and oversees healthcare facilities in California through multiple agencies, departments, boards, bureaus, and commissions. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Center for Health Care Quality, Licensing and Certification (L&C) Program are responsible for licensing and certifing more than 30 types of healthcare facilities. You can find information on medical care in California in the official website of The California Department of Public Health.

The state government oversees the healthcare system
The state government oversees the healthcare system (Source: Internet)

Systematically, there are 3 levels of healthcare and 5 types of medical facilities prominent in California. Each level and type serves a certain function, it is advisable to look into what the facility offers beforehand to make the optimal choice. You can find more general information on the healthcare system on the website of The California Department of Public Health.

Information about healthcare are sporadic on the Internet so it is time-consuming and confusing even to dig through the web. You can save your time and effort with our articles on healthcare which have already synthesized important details for you.

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Nhi Dam

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