Medical care is a high priority with people on the Oregon Coast, and local hospitals provide quality medical services at many locations along the coast. Local pride is apparent in both large and small facilities, as volunteers support the operations and local donors have made contributions to ensure continued hospital operations in their communities.
Hospitals on the coast fall into two categories, based on federal regulations that affect the rate at which they are paid for their services. Hospitals serving largely rural populations can be categorized as "critical access hospitals," or CAH. They must be about 25 miles away from any other CAH and no CAH can have more than 25 regular beds. All hospitals on the Oregon Coast are CAH except Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay/North Bend, which is licensed for 172 beds and is the de facto pinnacle of medical treatment on the South Coast.
Several hospitals are included in networks of hospitals. Although there are some for-profit hospital networks in the United States, none of them operate on the Oregon Coast. Two hospitals in Lincoln County -- North Lincoln and Pacific Communities -- affiliated with three others inland in the Samaritan Health Network. The residents of Florence invited the PeaceHealth organization to operate the Peace Harbor Hospital that was built to replace a small and aging structure. The Seaside hospital is part of Providence and Tillamook General is in the Adventist group.
Curry County is its own network, with one hospital in Gold Beach, a large new medical center in Brookings, and a clinic in Port Orford, all operating within the Curry Health Network. Coastal hospitals are actively using new technology to bring the best medical care within the reach of coastal residents and visitors. The Internet has made possible online connections with stroke specialists in situations where minutes are crucial for recovery. The system, known as telestroke, involves communications of medical, video, and audio data between the patient on the coast and a specialist in Portland.