Hospital managers to seek extension on seismic upgrade deadline

Hospital managers to seek extension on seismic upgrade deadline

Michele Ellson

Management at Alameda Hospital will be applying for an extension on the January 1, 2013 due date they face for making seismic upgrades to the hospital’s most earthquake damage-prone buildings.

Associate Administrator Kerry Easthope said management will ask the state for more time to find the money they’ll need to move the hospital’s kitchen and dietary services out of the hospital’s original 1925 building and to make seismic upgrades to its Stephens Wing, which houses patients. He’s now estimating the fixes will cost $12 million, $2 million more than originally proposed.

“Until you start getting into the walls and under the slab and figuring out what’s there – there’s going to be a lot of change orders,” said Easthope, who said fixing an existing building is more expensive and unpredictable than new construction.

The hospital had faced seismic upgrade requirements for its West Wing, but the building was reclassified in the fall as being more safe, he said.

The state law authorizing extensions of up to seven years won’t actually go into effect until the state gets federal approval of $320 million for Healthy Children programs, Easthope said. The approval isn’t expected to occur until June – which is after the March 31 deadline to submit the applications, he said.

If the law isn’t enacted, he said that 115 California hospitals will be out of compliance with the upgrade requirements. At that point policymakers will have to weigh earthquake risks against those posed by limiting access to hospital care, Easthope said.

Managers at hospitals that earn extensions will have until January 2015 to submit construction plans and to prove they have secured the funding needed to pay for upgrades. Easthope said hospital administrators will work to improve the hospital’s finances in order to qualify for a loan from the state’s Cal-Mortgage program will also seek funds from foundations, city and county leaders.

They hope to complete fixes to the hospital’s Stephens Wing by September 30, 2017 and to move the kitchen out of its original 1925 building – which doesn’t house patients – and have it decommissioned by the end of that year, according to a staff report presented at the Alameda Health Care District Board meeting Monday. A walkway to that building would also need to be removed, Easthope said.

He said hospital managers submitted seismic upgrade plans to the state in 2010 and are hopeful the final portions of those plans will be approved by the 2015 deadline. If their application is accepted, hospital administrators would likely meet with state officials to discuss a possible extension next year, Easthope said.

Even with an extension, the hospital still faces a 2030 state deadline for making more comprehensive seismic upgrades.