California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 130000

(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares the following:

(1) The Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act of 1983 was created because of the loss of life in the collapse of hospitals during the Sylmar earthquake of 1971.

(2) We were reminded of the vulnerability of hospitals in the Northridge earthquake of January 17, 1994.

(3) Several hospitals built prior to the act suffered major damage and had to be evacuated.

(4) Hospitals built to the Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act standards resisted the Northridge earthquakes with very little structural damage demonstrating the value and necessity of this act.

(5) Both pre- and post-act hospitals suffered damage to architecture and to power and water systems that prevented hospitals from being operational, caused the loss of one life, triggered evacuations, unacceptable property losses, and added additional concerns on emergency medical response.

(6) An earthquake survivability inventory of California's hospitals completed by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development in December 1989 indicated that over 83 percent of the state's hospital beds were in buildings that did not comply with the Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act because they were issued permits prior to the effective date of the act.  Furthermore, 26 percent of the beds are in buildings posing significant risks of collapse since they were built before modern earthquake codes.  The older hospitals pose significant threats of collapse in major earthquakes and loss of functions in smaller or more distant earthquakes.

(7) The 1989 survey also states:  “Of the 490 hospitals surveyed, nine hospitals are in Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Rupture Zones, 31 are in areas subject to soil liquefaction, 14 in areas with landslide potential, 33 in flood zones, and 29 have a possible loss or disruption of access.  Two hundred five hospitals had no emergency fuel for their main boilers on hand, 19 had no emergency fuel for their emergency generators.  Onsite emergency potable water was available at 273 hospitals and nonpotable water was available at 102 hospitals.  Four hundred eighteen hospitals had emergency radios onsite, and 419 hospitals had inadequate or partially adequate equipment anchorage.  In terms of available emergency preparedness, inadequate or partially inadequate equipment anchorage is still the most widespread shortcoming.”

(8) This survey identifies many of the shortcomings that caused 23 hospitals to suspend some or all operations after the Northridge earthquake.  However, one hospital was rebuilt to comply with the Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act after an older hospital building had partially collapsed in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.  The rebuilt hospital suffered failures in water distribution systems and had to be evacuated.

(9) The state must rely on hospitals to support patients and offer medical aid to earthquake victims.

(b) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature, that:

(1) By enacting this article, the state shall take steps to ensure that the expected earthquake performance of hospital buildings housing inpatients and providing primary basic services is disclosed to public agencies that have a need and a right to know, because the medical industry cannot immediately bring all hospital buildings into compliance with the Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act.

(2) The state shall encourage structural retrofits or replacements of hospital buildings housing inpatients and providing primary basic services that place lives at risk because of their potential for collapse during an earthquake.

(3) The state shall also encourage retrofits and enhancements to critical hospital architecture, equipment, and utility and communications systems to improve the ability of hospitals to remain operational for those hospitals that do not pose risk to life.


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