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Variable Definitions:
Hospital Facilities: The number of hospitals in a given area

Licensed Beds: The number of total beds across all hospitals, including beds for both general acute care and long-term care

California Health and Human Services – Hospital Annual Utilization Report

Years Available:
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

Methodology Note:

The original data comes at the point level. Our team geocoded the locations to generate X/Y coordinates, then spatial joined each point to 2020 Census Tracts.

Why are these variables important to measure?

Healthcare Institutions

While some research suggests that proximity to a hospital can reduce the risk of mortality in an emergency situation, the evidence in urban areas is limited. When individuals choose a hospital for themselves or loved ones, factors like expertise in a specific illness or treatment and history of medical errors may take precedent over location. This suggests that the quality of care in a hospital may be more important than proximity to their neighborhood. 

However, close proximity to a hospital may be important to some populations in non-emergency situations. Low-income people tend to use hospitals frequently for non-emergency care for a variety of reasons. Because emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day and must accept any patient that comes to them, they are often more accessible to people who cannot afford to leave work during normal primary care hours. Furthermore, hospitals don’t charge a co-pay like primary care physicians which can often be a barrier to care even for low-income people with insurance.

The importance of the number of hospitals in a given area varies greatly depending on other neighborhood factors and should be evaluated in tandem with other variables like median household income and insurance coverage rates.

Blizzard, Rick. “Healthcare Panel: How Do People Choose Hospitals?” Gallup, 25 October 2005. Link

“Low-Income Patients Say ER is Better Than Primary Care.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 9 July 2013. Link 

“Proximity of hospital affects heart attack survival rate: location may affect mortality in those having their first myocardial infarction.” Nursing Standard, vol. 233, no. 7, 2008, p. 16. Link

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