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Recent Earthquakes Renew Interest in Hospitals' Seismic Stability

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, April 7, 2010

Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association, quotes from a 2007 Rand report estimating the cost for hospitals to become compliant with state law is "as high as $110 billion, without financing costs." She declined to comment further, saying only that CHA is working on the issue with legislation.

According to the state's March report, structural engineers have determined that all hospital buildings used for acute care that fall into the category called Structural Performance Category, or SPC-1, must be "removed from service" by 2013, whereas SPC-2 buildings must be removed from service by 2030.

As of 2010, 825 of the state's 2,627 of acute care hospital buildings were said to be in the worst shape, category SPC-1, while 200 fell into SPC-2.

Of those 825, 321 buildings have active compliance or replacement projects, 74 received extensions to 2020, and 142 will have to be withdrawn from acute care by 2013. But 104 buildings belonging to 64 hospitals "are under review and have no other plans for compliance."

For hospital infrastructure systems that aren't structural, but are nevertheless critical for patient care, such as emergency power systems, fuel storage, and gas lines, 2,000 fell into NPC-1, the category that do not meet requirements for withstanding an earthquake.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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