Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital in Hamilton has been named one of the top 100 critical access hospitals in the country.

Hospitals in Anaconda, Dillon and Sidney are also on Ivantage Health Analytics list. The award is given to hospitals with 25 beds or less.

Critical access hospitals offer short-term treatment and short stays for severe injuries or illness, urgent conditions and recovery from surgery.

The award calls Marcus Daly Hospital one of the nation's best safety net institutions.

"Marcus Daly is a community hospital, a safety net," said the hospital's chief executive officer, John Bartos. "Our costs are lower than other hospitals in a similar category."

The report said 90 percent of critical access hospitals charge more than Marcus Daly.

The award spotlighted reinvestment in facilities, a new emergency department, laboratory and rehabilitation center. It noted positive patient surveys, lower re-admittance rates, better nurse-patient communication, better bedside reporting.

The private, not-for-profit hospital caters to a large poor population. It's a rural hospital. On one shift a nurse might care for a new mom and an elder with a hip fracture next door.

"It's just the whole spectrum of life," said director of nurses Susan Hill. "It's an honor."

It's welcoming a new life, said Hill, or standing at the bedside with loved ones as another life passes on.