RETROFITTING STANDARDS: California Hospitals Ready For Quakes
California hospitals are in a $10 billion race to build earthquake-ready facilities, and the University of California-Los Angeles hospital is leading the pack. Noting that the facility -- "the nation's second largest public building after the Pentagon" -- this week unveiled its remodeling plans, the Wall Street Journal reports that other hospitals in the state may have some catching up to do. Under state law, California's 450 hospitals must submit plans no later than Jan. 1, 2001, but Chris Tokas, senior structural engineer for California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, said so far his office has received fewer than a dozen compliance plans. Hospital owners "must decide whether to replace, retrofit or close some 2,670 acute- care buildings," and the "aggregate rebuilding costs could top $10 billion." While the mandates are "spurring hospitals to reassess their business strategies far into the next century," California Healthcare Association Senior VP Roger Richter says these decisions "are complicated by rapid changes in medical practices and hospital payment trends." In addition, hospitals will need to rethink their designs, as larger operating rooms will be needed to house state-of-the-art equipment and other rooms may become obsolete as "more procedures are being performed in doctors' offices and outpatient facilities" (Rundle, 1/20). Click here for previous CHL coverage.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.