Kaiser Permanente, which is in the midst of a campaign to revamp its hospitals, must now decide whether to close its 269-bed hospital in Southern California's San Fernando Valley to outpatients or rebuild.
"We're looking to either pursue an alliance with other hospitals in the area, where we would transfer emergency and inpatient services, or use (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funds to rebuild," said Kaiser spokeswoman Katherine Saux. There is no immediate timeline as to when a decision would be made regarding Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Panorama City. Cost estimates to pursue either option were not available.
Although only moderately damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the damage and stringent state seismic codes that take effect late in the next decade mean Kaiser must either rebuild from the ground up or stop accepting inpatients, Saux said. Outpatient facilities are exempt from the new seismic codes. She said 90% of the treatment that occurs at the hospital is on an outpatient basis.
Industry observers are mixed on what Kaiser should do, but many believe it makes more sense to close the hospital.
"Rebuilding today is very expensive, and there are other providers with which to link and cover the population," said Jeanne Hogan, a principal with Phoenix Healthcare, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based consulting firm.