San Francisco Chronicle Examines Hospitals’ Efforts To Meet State Seismic Safety Standards
Upcoming deadlines for hospitals to meet state-mandated seismic safety standards have prompted a "construction boom" at health care organizations statewide, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
A 1994 law requires that hospital structures at risk of collapse in a large earthquake must be rebuilt or retrofitted by 2008 or by 2013 if an extension is granted. The 450 acute-care hospitals in the state must meet all earthquake safety standards by 2030. According to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, about 39% of California hospital buildings currently do not meet seismic safety standards.
Some of the projects under way to bring Bay Area facilities up to code include a new 346-bed Kaiser Permanente hospital in Oakland, a new 250-bed hospital in Oakland for Sutter Health's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and a $420 million hospital to replace the existing Mills Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame.
"Even if you're not planning to break ground for a year or two, you're probably submitting your plans right now," Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, said.
According to CHA, hospitals will spend close to $20 billion to meet the 2008 deadline, and an additional $4 billion for other improvements. The New Century Healthcare Institute in San Francisco estimates that the total cost -- including borrowing costs and the expense of temporarily relocating quarters -- could reach $82 billion.
But with the costs of construction efforts "running $1 million per bed or more," Charlie Cosovich, a strategist in the health care consulting business of Kurt Salmon Associates, questioned whether some hospitals would be able to afford the retrofits. "What the state will do in 2008 and 2013 ... when some hospitals say they can't meet the deadlines, remains to be seen," he said (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12).