Bill Extending Seismic Retrofitting Deadlines Is ‘Best Hope’ for Avoiding Hospital Closure
A Senate bill (SB 842) that would extend the deadline by which hospitals must comply with state-mandated seismic safety standards is California's "best hope" of keeping hospitals open while ensuring that construction to meet the requirements is completed, a Los Angeles Times editorial states. A 1994 state law requires hospitals at risk of collapse in an earthquake to retrofit or rebuild by 2008; by 2030, hospitals must be able to continue operations after an earthquake. Hospital officials estimate that meeting the initial requirements will cost $12 billion, which they say "they don't have and can't get in time to finish the work by 2008" (Los Angeles Times, 9/6). The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), would extend the 2008 deadline by five years for general acute care hospitals that do not have any patient-service buildings that meet the 2008 standard on the condition that "basic service provided" in the facility after 2013 would have to meet the 2030 standard (California Healthline, 4/25). The editorial states that extending the deadline for meeting earthquake safety standards "seems boneheaded -- until you consider" that hospitals that miss the deadline will be shut down, "as surely as if an earthquake had devastated them" (Los Angeles Times, 9/6).