Key Messages: Hospitals Are Safe from Earthquakes, but Access to Health Care Is at Risk

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Hospitals Are Safe from Earthquakes, but Access to Health Care Is at Risk

Without time and regulatory reform, access to vital health services is at risk throughout California.

  • Hospitals are an important part of their communities, and California must do all it can to ensure that patients have uninterrupted access to care.
  • Under current law, any hospital building that does not meet the state’s 2030 seismic standards by Jan. 1, 2030, will be forced to close and patient care will cease at those facilities.

Patients and health care workers are safe — hospitals will stand after an earthquake.

  • Right now, hospitals have already met a 2020 state standard and are among the safest buildings in California. They have spent billions of dollars to retrofit and rebuild facilities for patient care and to protect workers and patients.
  • More than 98% of hospital buildings in California have met the state’s requirements to remain standing and keep patients and workers safe after an earthquake. The remaining few facilities will meet this requirement no later than the end of this year.

Hospitals need time and regulatory change to make sure they can meet communities’ needs following an earthquake.

  • California should not force hospitals — the primary centers for health care throughout the state — to divert tens of billions of dollars from patient care for construction, which delays progress toward health access and health equity in communities everywhere. California’s most vulnerable populations will be the hardest hit.
  • The deadline for seismic upgrades should be extended to provide the time needed to retrofit or rebuild buildings. Regulations should also be reformed to make sure that every health care dollar is wisely invested in patient care rather than bricks and mortar.
  • As the state works to hold health care costs in check, it must consider the impact tens of billions in infrastructure spending will have on this effort. Directing the Office of Health Care Affordability to analyze the cost impact of this mandate will be critical to ensuring access to affordable health care for all California communities.