‘Bureaucratic Logjam’ Blocking Hospitals’ Ability To Meet Seismic Safety Deadline
A "bureaucratic logjam" caused by vacancies at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development is interfering with hospitals' plans to meet the state's Jan. 1, 2008, seismic safety deadline, C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Healthcare Association, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece (Dauner, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2). Under revised seismic standards, all hospitals must guarantee that their buildings would not collapse in a significant quake by 2008, or 2013 if the buildings are expected to remain in use 30 years from now. By 2030, hospitals must be able to withstand a major earthquake and continue functioning immediately afterward (California Healthline, 6/17). More than 40% of the state's 2,700 hospital buildings must either be retrofitted or rebuilt to meet the standards or else be closed to patient care services, Dauner writes, noting that before work can begin, OSHPD must approve every hospital expansion, remodeling, retrofitting and new construction project in the state. Funding for the department's "plan checks" is provided by hospitals, so the approvals should be immune from state budgetary concerns, Dauner states. However, the statewide hiring freeze instituted last year has prevented OSHPD from filling 18 vacancies, "causing unwarranted delays ... of up to a year or more" on hospital construction projects, he writes. Legislation (AB 1154) sponsored by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) would "break the logjam" by exempting OSHPD from the hiring freeze so it can hire additional staff "as needed" to meet the hospital seismic compliance deadlines, Dauner concludes. The bill, which the Assembly approved 75-2, awaits Senate action (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.