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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:


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?

Hospital Facilities

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.

Licensed Beds

The number of beds in use at a hospital at any time is referred to as the “bed occupancy” or “utilization rate.” It is crucial to understand bed demand so that healthcare providers can distinguish between available beds and patients waiting for care.
A hospital would likely lose money if occupancy rates were too low because of unnecessary staffing and facility upkeep. On the other hand, a high bed occupancy rate could result in a decrease in quality care.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, California’s healthcare system has faced exceeding pressure. The average number of beds available during the pandemic was among the lowest in recent history. According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, California has had fewer hospital beds per capita compared to other states, with 1.84 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents. LA County has had a shortage of available beds due to the continuous pressures of COVID-19, respiratory virus seasons, and the need to reduce bed space to minimize patient stays and cut expenses. 
Written by Fernanda Martinez Montesinos

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

Definitive Healthcare (2022). Top 10 hospital performance metrics you need to know. Definitive Healthcare. https://www.definitivehc.com/blog/top-10-hospital-performance-metrics-you-need-to-know  

Fuller, T & Fernandez, M (2020). Surging Virus Exposes California’s Weak Spot: A Lack of Hospital Beds and Staff. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/01/us/california-hospital-bed-shortage.html 

Guiding Metrics (n.d). The hospital industry‘s 10 Most Critical Metrics. Guiding Metrics. https://guidingmetrics.com/content/hospital-industrys-10-most-critical-metrics/

“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

Money, L, Gong Lin, R, Alpert, E (2022). ‘A lot of viruses running around’: L.A. County hospital beds at lowest availability since the pandemic began. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-16/l-a-hospital-beds-at-lowest-availability-since-pandemic-began

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