SEISMIC STANDARDS: Hospitals Move Forward with Compliance
With the 2002 deadline for compliance with state seismic requirements fast approaching, hospitals around California are working to improve fire alarms and communications and power generator systems, the Bakersfield Californian reports. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the state enacted the requirements to prevent structural damage to older hospitals. In addition to the 2002 deadline, all general acute hospitals must meet structural guidelines to be "essentially earthquake-proof" by 2008. However, the state Legislature is considering several bills that would extend those deadlines (Terwilleger, 7/2).
Rural Hospitals Feel the Crunch
Some rural hospitals are "feeling the financial pinch" of complying with seismic standards. For example, Kern Valley Healthcare District Hospital in Mountain Mesa expects to spend between $900,000 and $1.3 million to retrofit its facility. Kern Valley CEO Tom Plantz said, "That, for a small hospital, is a significant chunk of money. Small rural hospitals are struggling with day-to-day budgets." Mercy Westside Hospital, run by Catholic Healthcare West Central California, also is struggling to upgrade its facility. Administrator Margo Arnold said, "We have grave concerns about the size of an unfunded mandate," adding that Mercy Westside plans to spend between $1 million and $1.5 million to upgrade its acute care facilities, which were built in 1947 (Terwilleger, Bakersfield Californian, 7/2).