Hospitals question earthquake construction standards


Despite being built with earthquakes in mind, recent tremors left their mark on Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

The CEO of the healthcare facility, Jim Suver, issued a statement addressing the damage suffered during the July earthquakes.

“RRH has had several engineers look at the tower building. Overall, the building did what it was it supposed to do during an earthquake to protect the structure, that is, the walls swayed and the roof/floor bounced. The tower building is structurally sound. Since the building absorbed the violence of the shakes, drywall seams popped all over the facility. Because of the nature of the hospital sterile environment, and our concern about infection prevention, these seams all need to be redone prior to putting the building back in service.

The major damage that happened to the building was water damage. Although the building was flexible, it appears the water pipes were rigid and snapped throughout the building causing damage. We are repairing the water damage and looking for moisture inside of the walls. All domestic water has been shut off to the second floor. We feel we need to have some engineering to the piping system, to ensure more flexibility in the event of an earthquake, before totally re-opening the Tower. I have raised this with the state and they have sent their seismic engineers down to learn more about building design.”

Now, ABC News is reporting that the hospital, which is situated in a city located between the Sequoia National Forest and Death Valley National Park, has joined with others across the state in “in questioning standards designed to keep hospitals open after earthquakes. The rules are set to take effect in 2030.

“Most hospitals in earthquake-prone California have met regulations designed to keep buildings from collapsing in an earthquake. But administrators say the standards for keeping the doors open after quakes are pricey and will force some hospitals to raise health care costs, cut services or close.”

ABC also writes that “the California Hospital Association, an industry group, says just 23 hospitals have met the 2030 standards, while 395 have not. They estimate it will cost as much as $143 billion for hospitals to comply, according to a study paid for by the industry.”

It quotes Carmela Coyle, president of the California Hospital Association as saying “If we follow through with this standard, we will likely close hospitals.”




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