Stakeholders Juggle Safety, Finances in Retrofitting Debate
A new California law that delays a 2013 deadline for most hospitals to be able to withstand an earthquake is fueling concerns that the safety of patients and hospital workers will be at risk if an earthquake occurs before the construction is complete, NPR's "All Things Considered" reports (Grigsby Bates, "All Things Considered," NPR, 12/18).
Under the law, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) earlier this month, hospitals that can demonstrate financial constraints will have until 2020 to retrofit buildings or construct new facilities. Many of the hospitals that are expected to qualify for the extension treat large and underserved urban populations (California Healthline, 12/11).
Jan Emerson of the California Hospital Association said that the law is a "tradeoff" but is necessary to allow hospitals serving uninsured and low-income populations to remain open during construction. However, Stephanie Roberson of the California Nurses Association said delaying the upgrades could lead to lost lives.
The seismic upgrade process will cost billions of dollars, and "the conversation about where that money will come from in California's debt-plagued economy hasn't yet begun," according to "All Things Considered."
A RAND study released this year by the California HealthCare Foundation found many hospitals were behind schedule and might have to be taken out of service under the old law.
The segment also includes comments from:
- Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara);
- David O'Neill, a program officer at CHCF; and
- Laura Weinsberg, vice president of St. John's Hospital ("All Things Considered," NPR, 12/18).
Audio of the segment is available online.
CHCF publishes California Healthline. 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.