A hospital is an institution for health care, often but not always providing for longer-term patient stays. Today, hospitals are usually funded by the state, health organizations (for profit or non-profit), health insurances or charities, including direct charitable donations. In history, however, they were often founded and funded by religious orders or charitable individuals and leaders. Hospitals are nowadays staffed by professional physicians, surgeons and nurses, whereas in history, this work was usually done by the founding religious orders or by volunteers.
The best-known type of hospital is the general hospital, which is set up to deal with many kinds of disease and injury, and typically has an emergency ward to deal with immediate threats to health and the capacity to dispatch emergency medical services. A general hospital is typically the major health care facility in its region, with large numbers of beds for intensive care and long-term care; and specialized facilities for surgery, plastic surgery, childbirth, bioassay laboratories, and so forth. Larger cities may have many different hospitals of varying sizes and facilities.
Types of specialized hospitals include trauma centers, children's hospitals, seniors' (geriatric) hospitals, and hospitals for dealing with specific medical needs such as psychiatric problems (see psychiatric hospital), certain disease categories, and so forth.
A hospital may be a single building or a campus. (Many hospitals with pre-20th-century origins began as one building and evolved into campuses.) Some hospitals are affiliated with universities for medical research and the training of medical personnel. Worldwide, most hospitals are run on a non-profit basis by governments or charities. Within the United States, most hospitals are not-for-profit.
A medical facility smaller than a hospital is called a clinic, and is often run by a government agency for health services or a private partnership of physicians (in nations where private practice is allowed). Clinics generally provide only outpatient services.
Many hospitals have hospital volunteer programs where people (usually students and senior citizens) can volunteer and provide various ancillary services.
Hospitals may be required by law to have backup power generators, in case of a blackout. Additionally they may be placed on special high priority segments of the public works (utilities) infrastructure to ensure continuity of care during a state of