Some Bay Area hospital buildings pose risk of earthquake collapse

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Scientists say it is not a matter of if, but when a major earthquake strikes our region. When the big one hits, people will rely on hospitals to take care of the thousands who are expected to be injured but will they still be standing?

The I-Team's Melanie Woodrow has been digging into state data.

The Seismic Safety Act originally gave hospitals until 2008 to make their buildings safe in a major quake. Many hospitals applied for an extension until January 1st, 2020 and have now applied and been granted new extensions, even though they have a number of buildings that pose a risk of collapse.
An I-TEAM analysis of data from California's Office of Statewide Health, Planning and Development found 41 Bay Area hospital buildings that pose a significant risk of collapse and danger to the public in the event of an earthquake.

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For the last 12 years, more than 200 hospital facilities across the state have been working to upgrade their buildings to make them more structurally sound in the event of an earthquake.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is one of several hospitals that applied for and was granted an extension beyond an already existing January 1, 2020 extension.

According to the state, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has five buildings that pose a significant risk of collapse and danger to the public in the event of an earthquake.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson tells the I-Team, the state granted an extension for three of the buildings until July 1, 2022.

"There are no acute care beds in these structures. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has a permit in place and will begin to seismically retrofit these structures prior to the new deadline," wrote the spokesperson.

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The statement also says the two other buildings have also been granted an extension to January 1, 2025.
"These structures include 16 patient beds and medical records, which will be moved to compliant buildings in 2021."

The other two hospitals with the most buildings that pose a significant risk of collapse are California Pacific Medical Center West Campus with seven buildings and Stanford Health Care with six buildings.

CPMC tells the I-Team the hospital at the West Campus is now closed and all inpatient services have been transferred to the Van Ness Campus. Also that, "There are some isolated support and outpatient care services still operating in the facility, which will relocate throughout 2020."

Stanford Health Care says there are no hospital beds or acute care in their six significant risk buildings.

"The affected outpatient services will be moved to a new space in Redwood City or on the main Palo Alto Campus by the end of 2023," writes a spokesperson.

Hospitals still requesting an extension like Santa Clara Valley Medical Center must provide a quarterly report of its progress in meeting the new deadline. Those reports are available publicly online.
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