As hospitals rocked by last week's earthquake in Southern California began the task of rebuilding, other healthcare providers were forced to close or demolish facilities and office complexes, displacing thousands of physicians and leaving many healthcare workers jobless.
According to information compiled by MODERN HEALTHCARE from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the Hospital Council of Southern California and individual medical centers, 34 hospital buildings and medical office complexes sustained damage from the powerful temblor.
Of those structures, 15 were hospitals, four were skilled-nursing facilities and the other 15 included various structures such as medical group clinics, parking structures and physician offices.
Damage estimates for these structures so far have been difficult to determine because building operators and owners are surveying the devastation.
Last weekend, a wrecking ball took aim at the six-story Barrington Medical Office Building, which housed many of West Los Angeles' most prominent healthcare providers. Severe structural damage caused by two aftershocks forced the building's shutdown and immediate teardown because it was located near a busy east-west thoroughfare.
Damage estimates for that building are said to be in the millions because of the loss of medical equipment and thousands of irreplaceable medical records.
In the San Fernando Valley, near the quake's epicenter, all but one of the hospitals hardest hit by the temblor re-sumed most services by last week.
Engineers surveying the 349-bed Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Sepulveda have determined that the hospital's main medical-surgical facility is uninhabitable, said Perry Nor-man, the hospital's director.
Sepulveda officials have submitted a proposal to President Clinton and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown outlining possible scenarios for reopening or replacing the structure.
However, Ms. Norman noted that because the Clinton healthcare reform plan calls for consolidation of some VA services, it's unclear whether the facility would be replaced or merged into existing Southern California VA hospitals.
So far, the federal government has earmarked $21 million for immediate repairs of the facility. Damage estimates and facility replacement costs haven't been determined, Ms. Norman said.
In Santa Monica, where state inspectors closed Saint John's Hospital and Health Center two weeks ago, hospital executives were crafting plans to restructure existing space and reopen completely within three to six months, said spokeswoman Trish Bartel.
Emergency and trauma services are closed, but many outpatient programs are open in buildings away from the main campus. The hospital's estimated 2,000 workers are being offered temporary placement services at nearby hospitals, Ms. Bartel said.
Meanwhile, other Los Angeles-area hospitals also have been declared unsafe because of structural problems.
Near downtown, California Medical Center, a UniHealth America-operated hospital, closed a nine-story wing of the hospital's older structure after engineers determined that columns supporting the structure were severely cracked. A spokeswoman said the wing, which housed non-patient services, was under repair and will reopen.
Other facilities reporting damage were Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley and Queen of Angels/Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.
Four skilled-nursing facilities also sustained earthquake-related damage. Two were closed in Santa Monica while two facilities, one in Simi Valley and another in San Pedro, were declared unsafe.