HOSPITALS: Earthquake-Proof Mandate Presents Dilemmas
A new law designed to guarantee that all California hospitals are earthquake-proof by the year 2030 is posing some serious dilemmas to hospital owners, who must decide by Jan. 1, 2001, if they want to reinforce older buildings or tear them down and build new ones that are "virtually earthquake safe," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Owners not only need to navigate the construction process to locate enough architects, consultants, engineers and designers skilled in hospital construction, but they also must find enough money to finance the projects. According to SB 1953, passed after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, all hospital buildings with in-patient beds must be "able to withstand a major earthquake" by 2008; by 2030, they must be able "to operate without any loss of service through such catastrophes." This means that facilities planning to be open in 2008 need a plan and funding by 2001 or 2002 to begin the lengthy process involved in designing and building hospitals. Attorney Michael Baker, a recognized expert in design and construction contracts mediation and litigation, said that in addition to securing financing "as quickly as possible," hospital administrators and owners must "do everything they can to educate themselves on the situation with regard to consultants, timing and complexity of required reports and possible disruption to normal operations." Hospital officials also must provide "realistic appraisals" of their plan and obtains the "manpower needed to accommodate the state mandate" (Baker, 2/29).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.