Author: CalMatters Ana B. Ibarra

Why California hospitals are struggling to meet earthquake safety deadline

Source(s): Jefferson Public Radio

It’s been close to 30 years since California enacted the bulk of its seismic safety standards, but hospitals continue to ask for more time and flexibility. They argue that many facilities, especially smaller ones, can’t afford the retrofitting or replacement costs.

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Although it’s been decades since California implemented its strict seismic safety requirements, paying for those upgrades continues to be a tough task, especially for smaller facilities with limited resources and funding, according to hospital officials across the state. Like Jerold Phelps Community Hospital, two-thirds of California hospitals have yet to meet the looming state seismic deadline that requires hospital buildings to be updated to ensure they can keep operating after an earthquake.

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Hospital administrators acknowledge their buildings need to remain safe and available for emergency services following a quake, but they say they need more time to complete their upgrades and construction projects, especially as many are still reeling from the financial strains of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials at smaller hospitals say that in addition to time, they need funding. They also want more flexibility. The Legislature, they say, should revisit the rules and grant them more leeway for buildings that provide non-emergency services.

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In the midst of last year’s budget surplus projections, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, a Coachella Democrat, sought to secure $1 billion in the state budget to help California’s 32 district hospitals with their seismic projects, but those efforts ultimately went nowhere. District hospitals are public hospitals governed by an elected board and largely located in underserved areas.

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Hazards Earthquake
Country and region United States of America
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