Focus on disaster readiness could mean retrofitting, renovations for Calif. hospitals

As natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes are striking major population hubs worldwide, the underlying building structures of hospitals are coming under more scrutiny. For example, hospitals in California are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because the state rests above a major fault line. The state's Senate Health Committee is assessing the progress of such hospitals in renovating their buildings, considering that by law, they are required to retrofit their buildings to more stringent requirements by 2013.

Current estimates show that 825 buildings throughout the state could not survive a major earthquake. Of those, about 20 percent are concentrated in urban areas, and will not make the deadline, despite four extensions since 2008.

"There are going to be a lot, both in L.A. and my area, the Bay area, where buildings have not been retrofitted, and they're not going to be a safe place to be and people will die," said California State Sen. Elaine Kontominas.

Rather than retrofitting, some hospitals are constructing brand-new structures because of its comparable cost. However, because of the challenging economy, some hospitals cannot get the loans to rebuild.

To learn more:
- read this ABC article