Almost half of all California hospitals considered at risk of collapse during a major earthquake will not meet seismic-safety standards established by a state law 13 years ago, according to a new study conducted by the not-for-profit RAND Corp. for the California HealthCare Foundation. Researchers found that the hospitals collectively will need to spend as much as $110 billion to comply with the deadlines imposed by the law, enacted in 1994 after the devastating 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake caused about $3 billion in damage to Southern California hospitals, forcing three to close. The cost of financing could double that steep price tag by the time the final deadline for seismic-safety standards arrives in 2030, the report said. Ultimately, patients, employers and taxpayers will pay for the cost of new hospital buildings, said David ONeill, senior program officer for the CHCF, an independent philanthropy based in Oakland. And the high cost of earthquake disaster mitigation may force some hospitals to close, reducing vital access to services in some communities. The long list of vulnerable structures amounts to a total of about 1,000 hospital buildings – or more than one-third of the 2,700 hospital buildings in the state, said Jan Emerson, a spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association. -- by Michael Romano
Seismic standards troubling Calif. hospitals
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