California hospitals push to narrow scope, delay 2030 earthquake safety standards

The California Hospital Association is seeking a refocus of 2030 state seismic safety requirements to only "emergency" services and is pushing for more time to reach compliance on buildings holding other hospital services.

The request comes as the association says hospitals in the state face financial pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals in the state recorded an $8 billion net loss in 2020, including federal financial relief, according to the association. Another $2.2 billion in losses is expected this year, according to the lobby.

"As a result of lessons of the past year, it's time for state lawmakers to take a fresh look at a 1990s-era state law that will both impose billions of dollars of costs on hospitals and — if not modified — will result in hospital closures across the state," the association said.

The organization called on the state legislature to pass a proposal that would move California's 2030 hospital seismic requirements to be fully operational only on buildings that provide "emergency" services. It would also give hospitals until 2037 to comply with other requirements.

The California Nurses Association said in a July 12 news release it opposes the proposal.

"Every day we delay compliance further, we are risking people's lives," the statement reads. "The real goal of the corporate hospitals is to get out from under the entire 2030 seismic safety standard and leave all of us unprotected. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the deadly tragedies that occur when hospitals are not prepared for disasters and emergencies. Let's not let hospitals make the same deadly mistake twice."

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