San Diego Supervisors To Support Legislation Easing Deadline for State-Mandated Hospital Seismic Upgrades
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a resolution to support state legislation that would extend the deadline for hospitals to meet state-mandated seismic safety requirements, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The requirements stipulate that any hospital building that is at significant risk of collapse or loss of life in an earthquake must be retrofitted by 2008 so that it can remain standing or continue operating after a major earthquake. The requirements also give hospitals until 2030 to make changes to enable them to function after an earthquake. Hospitals can ask for a five-year extension on the first deadline, but San Diego health care officials say many facilities might still be forced to close because they will be unable to meet the deadline. Facilities, many of which already face funding problems, are facing the challenge of finding an extra $1.2 billion -- half in the next three years -- to pay for the upgrades, according to Steve Escoboza, president of the Healthcare Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties. Meanwhile, many facilities across the state that have made plans for the upgrades are waiting for approval from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The department has a two-year bottleneck that has delayed $3 billion in seismic repair projects. State officials say more experts are being hired to speed the process. Jan Emerson, spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, which is supporting a number of measures to ease pressure on hospitals, said, "The very law intended to keep hospitals operating in the event of a serious earthquake may result in hospitals closing before the earthquake if they can't comply" (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/7).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.