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Earthquakes generally are not high on the list of emergency preparedness priorities for institutional and commercials. But the natural disasters are on the list for facilities managers in California, where deadlines for compliance with state seismic mandates are making the issue a top priority.
Take Kern County, Calif., as an example. Nearly every hospital in the county has buildings with inpatient beds that will not meet seismic codes unless costly changes are made, according to The Kern Valley Sun.
The Sylmar earthquake of 1971 caused fatal hospital collapses, so California created seismic safety standards for acute care hospitals. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the state amended those standards to make certain that hospitals not only remain standing after an earthquake but that they also remain operational to continue providing medical services for their patients and earthquake victims. But with Bakersfield's growing population and a lack of beds during construction or building closures, enough hospital beds might not be available in the event of a disaster.
The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development maintains a public listing of all acute care hospital buildings in the state and seismic ratings for each. Hospital buildings rated SPC-1 have the highest risk of collapse during an earthquake, and must be brought into compliance or closed by Jan. 1, 2020. Other hospital buildings with an SPC-2 rating might struggle after a large earthquake and have until Jan. 1, 2030, to complete upgrades. Otherwise, the structures must be closed.
This Quick Read was submitted by Cathryn Jakicic, Healthcare Industries Editor, FacilitiesNet. For more about hospital campuses and other medical facilities, visit https://www.facilitiesnet.com/healthcarefacilities.