Seismic Safety Law Delaying Hospital Construction Plans
State officials are seeking to enhance the approval process for hospital projects in California to reduce delays that result in additional construction and labor costs, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
A new hospital in California can take twice as long as hospitals in other states to design, plan and construct because state regulators oversee the process to ensure that facilities meet new seismic safety standards.
Costs for construction and labor are rising an estimated 18% annually in California, and each additional month to a project's timeline can add an extra $2 million to the $500 million cost of a larger hospital, according to the Union-Tribune.
The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, which oversees the construction process, typically does not intervene in a project until at least two years into the process, after the design and blueprints are complete.
John Gillengerten, deputy director of OSHPD's facilities development division, said earlier involvement by regulators, however, could cut at least five months from a design approval process that usually takes at least one year.
Despite improvements to the regulatory process, new seismic safety requirements will continue to make hospital construction projects more time-consuming and costly than in other states, according to the Union-Tribune (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/15).
OSHPD is proposing to adopt a software program to re-evaluate the seismic risk of hospitals, a process that would allow up to 60% of hospitals in California until 2030 to meet seismic standards if they are not in immediate need of renovation.
The current deadline to meet the standards is 2013, with an extension to 2015 for hospitals that failed to meet the deadline but demonstrated a concerted effort (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 7/13).