Understanding Healthcare Facilities

There are many kinds of healthcare facilities. You can get healthcare for yourself and your family at many of these. You don’t always need to go to a hospital or emergency room. Where you go will depend on what you need.

Look on the web or in the phone book to find healthcare facilities near you. Check under clinics or health services. You can also check under rehabilitation services or centers.

Your primary healthcare provider

Your personal healthcare provider is the place to start in the healthcare system. Your healthcare provider is often part of a group of healthcare providers (medical practice). This is your "medical home." You can get all of the healthcare services you need by starting with your healthcare provider. He or she can give treatment. And your healthcare provider can help coordinate other healthcare services you may need.

Your primary healthcare provider diagnoses and treats both acute and chronic illnesses. He or she can also help you stay healthy and protect you from illness. You can get counseling through your healthcare provider. You can also talk with a health teacher to learn more about your condition. Your healthcare provider's practice may include various types of health professionals.

Most of your healthcare problems can be managed by your primary healthcare provider. It's best if he or she is in your own town. That's so your healthcare provider can help you find other health services you may need. He or she will be able to tell you where to go for certain types of care.

Urgent care center

Urgent care centers give medical care right away if you can't see your own healthcare provider. These places can treat acute and chronic illnesses and injuries. They don't replace your healthcare provider. An urgent care center can help if your regular healthcare provider is on vacation. Or if you can't get an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as you need to. They are also the place to go when you get ill outside of regular office hours. You won't have to wait for hours in a hospital emergency room.

Emergency room (ER)

The ER is only for serious illness and injury. In the ER, you will be looked at and be treated. This may be for medical, surgical, or psychiatric care. You can get emergency care in a hospital. Or you can get it at a separate emergency department. It may also be available in an urgent care clinic. Or in an emergency medical response vehicle or at a disaster site.

Outpatient services

In many cases, you can be treated as an outpatient. This means you don't have to be admitted to a hospital. Outpatient services include:

  • ER treatment

  • Monitoring

  • Outpatient surgery

  • Lab tests

  • X-rays

  • Immunizations


Hospitals play an important role in the healthcare system. Hospitals have a staff of healthcare providers and other medical professionals, and rooms where patients stay. They give care round the clock. This care can be medical, surgical, mental health, and nursing. Hospitals also offer a range of care for acute and chronic problems. They also care for you while you recover from surgery or are in treatment for an injury.

Inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF)

An IRF gives intense rehabilitation treatment. It can be done in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Or it can be done as part of a rehabilitation hospital. A group of healthcare professionals from different specialties coordinates your care. Your healthcare team may have:

  • Rehabilitation healthcare provider

  • Registered nurse

  • Social worker

  • Care manager

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Speech-language pathologist

  • Expert on prosthetics or orthotics

  • Experts in palliative or symptom-focused care

People with complex medical conditions are usually treated at an IRF. These conditions include neurological, musculoskeletal, and orthopedic problems.

An IRF has skilled nursing care 24 hours a day. This care is supervised by a healthcare provider. You also see a healthcare provider at least 3 times a week. Rehabilitation therapy usually happens 5 days a week for at least 3 hours a day. Therapy sessions may vary, depending on your medical condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.

Comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facility (CORF)

Outpatient rehabilitation means you travel to a clinic, hospital, or rehabilitation facility for treatment. You can go home the same day. A group of healthcare professionals from different specialties coordinates your care. Your healthcare team may include:

  • Primary healthcare provider

  • Licensed or registered nurse

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Respiratory therapist

  • Social worker

  • Speech-language pathologist

A CORF gives skilled outpatient rehabilitation therapy. The length of your session at a CORF may vary, depending on your medical condition and your healthcare provider’s practices. It can last from 30 minutes to more than an hour. It's used for conditions like back and neck problems, and knee injuries in people who are ill or disabled. It's also for nerve and brain problems like stroke. You can also get care for some skin disorders like wounds, burns, or diabetic foot sores. As your condition improves, some of these services can be provided by visiting nurses or other healthcare providers in your home.

Skilled nursing facility

A skilled nursing facility could be part of a nursing home or a hospital. It offers long- and short-term care. This facility will offer nursing care 24 hours a day. You can also get:

  • Physical or occupational therapy

  • Speech language services

  • Medical social services

  • Medicine treatment

These services are all under the direction of a healthcare provider. This type of care is often used if you are very sick. Or you may have this care if you are recovering from a serious accident or surgery. You can get the treatment you need and get help with bathing, eating, and walking.