Voters support VMC bond measure

November 5, 2008 2:58:26 PM PST
A measure that would authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to upgrade the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and make it seismically sound appears to be headed toward victory.

Votes were still being counted in Santa Clara County early Wednesday morning, but with 78 percent of precincts reporting, Measure A had garnered 78 percent of the vote. It requires two-thirds approval to pass.

In the measure, the county proposes issuing bonds totaling $840 million to retrofit the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and fund medical facilities in downtown San Jose that would replace the closed San Jose Medical Center, according to the county registrar of voters.

A seismic upgrade of the medical center is mandatory under state law.

Kim Roberts, chief executive officer of the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, said Valley Medical Center is the largest health provider in Santa Clara County -- in the past four years, one out of every four county residents has been cared for by the center.

If the bond does not pass, half of the 574 beds at the center will disappear, and the trauma and burn centers would have to be shut down because there would not be sufficient staffing or space to continue the services, Roberts said.

A state law adopted after the 1994 Northridge earthquake mandates that hospitals comply with seismic safety requirements by 2013.

The bonds will pay for the retrofit project and no further funding will be required, Roberts said.

In order to meet the timeline, the hospital has already begun outlining the construction, and has almost completed the plans that must be approved by the state. Roberts said architectural plans will be given to the state for approval later this year so that the construction will be finished by 2013.

Measure A also requires the creation of a citizens' oversight committee to review annual reports on the collection and expenditure of funds. It also prohibits the county from using bond money for administrators' salaries.


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