Japan’s Earthquake Puts Spotlight on California Hospitals’ Seismic Safety
Last week's 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan has brought new attention to seismic safety compliance at California hospitals, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Efforts To Reach Compliance
A new hospital that is scheduled to open on May 15 -- Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame -- recently demonstrated a newly constructed base-isolation system that can shift the structure 30 inches in any direction if a quake occurs (Pfeffer, San Jose Mercury News, 3/15).
Last month, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development released a report finding that officials at about 85% of California hospitals said they plan to retrofit their buildings to comply with seismic safety standards by 2015.
All but two hospital buildings deemed to be at the highest risk of collapse said they are on track to meet the deadline.
Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, said CHA is working on legislation designed to help hospitals that are facing challenges in meeting the seismic safety requirements. The legislation could offer an extension of the retrofitting deadline.
Meanwhile, Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) has introduced a bill (SB 630) that would make it more difficult for the state to extend seismic safety compliance deadlines. The legislation also would require hospitals with the most at-risk buildings to post public notices about collapse hazards (Jewett, California Watch, 3/16).
Officials Offer Guidance on Radiation Risks
In related news, state health officials are informing the public not to take potassium iodide to curb the absorption of radiation from Japanese nuclear power plants disrupted by the earthquake. Health officials said potassium iodide could be harmful for people with certain health conditions.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that radiation from the Japanese power plants is not expected to reach California (LaVelle, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/15).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.