Seismic Safety: Will California Hospitals Be Ready for the Next Big Quake?

Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher: California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Charles Meade; Jonathan Kulick; Rand Corporation

Research Area: Health

Type: Report

Coverage: California


Following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which caused an estimated $3 billion in damage to Southern California hospitals, state lawmakers acted to strengthen seismic safety standards and ensure that hospitals would continue operating after a strong earthquake. Known as SB 1953, the legislation established a schedule for meeting seismic safety goals by instituting firm deadlines for retrofitting and/or reconstruction of those hospitals classified as collapse hazards. Hospitals were expected to meet these goals in two phases: the first by 2008 (now extended to 2013), and the second by 2030. This CHCF-funded report by RAND Corporation, a follow-up to a similar 2002 study, examines the progress California hospitals have made toward meeting SB 1953 deadlines. It outlines the significant compliance challenges hospitals face, difficult policy choices that must be weighed, as well as providing three potential options for policymakers working to achieve full implementation. The analysis reveals that almost half of the hospitals needing retrofitting will not meet the 2013 deadline, and many construction projects will not meet the final 2030 deadline. In fact, it may take more than 30 years, and as much as $110 billion, to fully implement the law. compliance.