State Could Reassess Seismic Risks of All Hospital Facilities
On Wednesday, the California Buildings Standards Commission will consider adopting new regulations for measuring the seismic risk of a hospital, a move that could reduce the number of facilities required to complete seismic retrofits or rebuild facilities by 2013, the Ventura County Star reports (Klampe, Ventura County Star, 11/14).
Under current law, hospitals must meet state seismic safety standards by 2013, or 2020 if they can prove a lack of financial means (California Healthline, 11/5).
However, the new regulations would reassess the seismic risk of each facility using computer modeling software, called HAZUS, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/14).
While current regulations only assess the structure of a building, the new software program considers several factors, including:
- Soil composition;
- Proximity to earthquake faults; and
- History of seismic activity in the region (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 11/14).
Hospital officials estimate that 50% to 60% of 1,100 facilities classified as high-risk buildings could be reclassified as a lower risk using the new program (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/14).
As a result, the deadline for those facilities to meet seismic safety standards would be extended to 2030 (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/14). Postponing the deadline would save the industry about $4.6 billion in short-term costs (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/14).
Critics of the new software program, including the California Nurses Association, argue that delaying seismic retrofits can put lives at risk (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/14). 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.