California Legislature Weighs Bill on New Rules for Hospital Construction
The Assembly Health Committee has approved a bill (AB 2966) that would require the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to select and hire inspectors for the construction of health care facilities in an effort to avoid conflicts of interest in hospital construction projects, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The current system allows hospitals and architects to select and hire their own inspectors.
Tom Conway, a licensed building inspector, told the Assembly Health Committee that hospitals can "threaten, coerce and bully inspectors who do try to do the right thing by threatening their continued employment ... or threatening their future employment in the industry."
Assembly member Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) introduced the bill and said it would be "cost-neutral," noting that OSHPD would only need to hire a few more employees to bill the hospitals for the services of the inspectors.
Lieber said that the state would bill hospitals at cost and that the inspectors would not be state employees.
The bill "has even become more pressing" as hospitals try to meet the 2013 deadline for minimum seismic safety requirements and even stricter mandates by 2030, Lieber said.
OSHPD has not taken a position on the measure.
Many building inspectors oppose the bill and say Conway is an exception who does not reflect industry standards, the Times reports.
Mark Christian -- director of legislative affairs for the American Institute of Architects, California Council -- said it is in the interest of hospitals and architects to follow the approved codes and plans required for preventing building failure and protecting lives in the event of catastrophes.
The American Construction Inspectors Association also opposes the bill (Bohan, Contra Costa Times, 4/6).