BAKERSFIELD: Hospital Project Incorporates Earthquake Codes
Bakersfield Heart Hospital's new $20 million MedCath Inc. project "may be the first medical facility in the area that has begun work to meet new state seismic regulations." The Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Safety Act "imposes strict new requirements so that hospitals will sustain less damage and continue to operate safely after a moderate earthquake," the Bakersfield Californian reports. Construction on the foundations of the "52-bed hospital that will offer state-of-the-art technology," has begun, and features "a process that involves drilling 50,000 tons of gravel into columns reaching as far as 30 feet underground." Mike Saia, project manager for the facility's construction contractor, SC Anderson, Inc., said this technique is necessary because "much of Bakersfield is situated on an old riverbed," and "many areas are subject to liquefaction." He added, "Acute care hospitals are built to a more stringent code than most public and private buildings because they must maintain operations" in order to provide health care and emergency services to people injured in an earthquake.
Up To Code
MedCath "joins four major hospitals in the area that are looking at ways to comply with new state seismic regulations passed after the 1994 Northridge earthquake." The 1994 regulations require that hospitals meet certain structural guidelines to allow them to continue housing "patients, emergency and operating rooms, supplies and pharmacies" in the event of an earthquake. In addition, the law "requires that the hospital's essential services, such as communication, fire and power, be able to survive an earthquake and be operable by 2008" (Garcia, 3/12).