Friday, January 19, 2007

Hospitals Meet Quake Standards

Hospitals Meet Quake Standards
By Andrea E. Garcia

FAIRFIELD - Thirteen years after a state law required all hospitals to meet seismic safety standards, nearly half will fall short of their deadline in 2013. Unless, that is, it's a hospital in Solano County.

Almost 50 percent of California hospitals won't meet seismic safety standards by the state deadline of 2013, which could cost as much as $110 billion in construction upgrades, according to an analysis released Thursday conducted by the RAND Corporation for the California HealthCare Foundation.

"Our analysis shows that not only will many hospitals have trouble meeting the near-term deadline, but many may have trouble becoming earthquake safe by the final 2030 deadline," said Charles Meade, lead author of the report and a senior physical scientist at RAND, in a press release.

But the three major facilities in Solano County - Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Regional Medical Foundation and NorthBay Medical Center - are already up to code or will meet the codes by the initial deadline of 2008, officials said.

"We are rebuilding the hospital tower in Vallejo in part to meet the new seismic standards . . .," said Jim Caroompas, spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente. The Kaiser facility planned for Vacaville will also meet or exceed the required standards when completed. It's targeted to open in 2009.

At NorthBay Medical Center, the three-story tower building constructed in 1992 complies with required codes. However, the original one-story building, which sits adjacent to the tower, was erected in 1975. And some of the seismic structural issues aren't a concern, said Dave Mathews, director of plant operations and general services for NorthBay Healthcare.

"When we built that facility, we came under new regulations and from a structural standpoint, we are OK," he said. "Therefore, we don't have concerns as others do."

There are some updates that need to be performed to the one-story building by 2008, he said, but the updates are on primarily small equipment.

"We have some bracing issues on equipment that wasn't required to be bolted down before but now is," he said, and mentioned the equipment includes medication carts and bottled medical gases that are currently on wheels.

He did add that by the 2030 deadline, current strategic planning by NorthBay will likely consider replacing the 1975 building.

During the past few years, Sutter Solano in Vallejo has been upgrading its facility by meeting seismic refitting codes and improving its facility, facilities manager Richard Musselman said.

"They're bringing up standards and have been working in upgrading seismic restraints while making it user friendly at the same time," he said, who works for Sutter Regional Medical Foundation.

According to the state legislation, the risk of a 7.0 or greater earthquake in the Bay Area by 2030 is 62 percent.

Reach Andrea E. Garcia at 427-6953 or

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive