Hospital Seismic Retrofitting Projects Statewide Stalled by Staffing Shortages
A staffing shortage at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development has delayed the construction, rebuilding and seismic retrofitting of hospitals statewide by up to one year and is costing hospitals millions of dollars in extra construction costs and lost wages, the Los Angeles Times reports. While hospitals statewide are "on the cusp of a construction boom" to meet a state-mandated 2008 deadline for seismic rebuilding and retrofitting, the state office that oversees the hospital construction does not have enough staff to review the projects. Despite the fact that the staff positions at the health planning office are paid entirely by the hospitals -- 1.64% of total hospital construction costs are paid into a fund administered by the office -- a state hiring freeze has prevented the money from being used to hire staff to review the hospital construction projects, the Times reports. According to the Times, hospitals are expected to spend $14 billion on construction and retrofitting for at least 4,000 projects, but the health planning office staffing has decreased from 186 to 156 employees. The "backlog" in the health planning office has affected all other hospital construction projects besides seismic retrofitting projects, the Times reports.
Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Los Feliz) has introduced a bill (AB 1154) that would exempt the state health planning office staff positions from the state hiring freeze and any further cutbacks until Jan. 1, 2013. The bill also would authorize the health planning office to add hospital-funded positions. The Department of Finance opposes the legislation, arguing that the bill attempts to undermine the authority of the executive branch and encourages the growth of government (Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 9/8).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.