Major Hospital Operators Making Progress on Seismic Safety Retrofits
California's major hospital operators are moving forward with renovations to meet a state law requiring most facilities to be able to withstand an earthquake and continue operations, while smaller hospitals with financial constraints are lagging behind, Capitol Weekly reports (Sander, Capitol Weekly, 1/3).
Under a law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) at the end of last year, hospitals that can demonstrate financial constraints will have until 2020 to retrofit buildings or construct new facilities.
The state's original deadline for hospitals to meet seismic safety standards was 2008, but the law later was extended to 2013 for all but 10 hospitals (California Healthline, 12/11/07).
Meanwhile, three of the state's largest hospital operators -- Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and Catholic Healthcare West -- continue to renovate or rebuild facilities and remain unaffected by the delayed deadline.
Those facilities are making progress with seismic retrofits despite the fact that construction costs have risen by about two-thirds in the last few years, according to Capitol Weekly.
Jan Emerson, spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, said, "I think there is growing awareness among legislators that there is going to have to be government" intervention to assist low-income hospitals in meeting the deadlines.
Emerson said that independent, stand-alone or rural hospitals cannot borrow the amount of money needed for seismic retrofits, adding, "There's going to have to be a conversation on how we're going to finance this" (Capitol Weekly, 1/3).