Today, hospitals are usually funded by the public sector, by health organizations (for profit or nonprofit), health insurance companies or charities, including by direct charitable donations. Historically, however, hospitals were often founded and funded by religious orders or charitable individuals and leaders. Conversely, modern-day hospitals are largely staffed by professional physicians, surgeons, and nurses, whereas in history, this work was usually performed by the founding religious orders or by volunteers. Today, there are various Catholic religious orders, such as the Alexians and the Bon Secours Sisters which still focus on hospital ministry.
There are over 17,000 hospitals in the world.
During the Middle Ages hospitals served different functions to modern institutions, being almshouses for the poor, hostels for pilgrims, or hospital schools. The word hospital comes from the Latin hospes, signifying a stranger or foreigner, hence a guest. Another noun derived from this, hospitium came to signify hospitality, that is the relation between guest and shelterer, hospitality, friendliness, hospitable reception. By metonymy the Latin word then came to mean a guest-chamber, guest's lodging, an inn. Hospes is thus the root for the English words host (where the p was dropped for convenience of pronunciation) hospitality, hospice, hostel and hotel. The latter modern word derives from Latin via the ancient French romance word hostel, which developed a silent s, which letter was eventually removed from the word, the loss of which is signified by a circumflex in the modern French word hôtel. The... [continues]
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