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A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment.

Hospitals are usually funded by the public sector, by for-profit and non-profit health organizations, health insurance companies, or charitable organizations. Historically, hospitals were often founded and funded by religious orders or charitable individuals and leaders.[1]

Today, hospitals are largely staffed by professional physicians, surgeons, and nurses, whereas in the past, this work was usually performed by the founding religious orders or by volunteers. However, various Catholic religious orders such as the Alexians and the Bon Secours Sisters still focus on hospital ministry today, as well as several Christian denominations, including the Methodists and Lutherans, which run hospitals.[2]

In accord with the original meaning of the word, hospitals were originally "places of hospitality" for the needy[3], and this meaning is still preserved in the names of some institutions such as the Royal Hospital Chelsea, established in 1681 as a retirement and nursing home for veteran soldiers.


  1. Hall, Daniel (December 2008). "Altar and Table: A phenomenology of the surgeon-priest". Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 81 (4): 193–198. PMC PMC2605310. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  2. Lovoll, Odd Svere (1998). The Promise Fulfilled: A Portrait of Norwegian Americans Today. U of Minnesota Press. p. 192. ISBN 9780816628322. 
  3. Porter, Roy (2001). The Penguin Social History of Britain: English Society in the Eighteenth Century. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141926476. Retrieved 3 April 2014.