The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) has worked to develop HAZUS standards that will remarkably improve the efficiency of hospitals in California. HAZUS is a program developed to calculate a hospital’s potential for loss based on the careful consideration and testing of an area’s geological, historical and structural condition to determine its exposure to and intensity of hazard.
When strict seismic standards were implemented after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, California hospitals faced extensive remodeling construction as well as the expensive costs associated with the upgrades. With approximately 40 percent of California hospitals facing closure if they do not meet seismic standards by 2013, OSHPD and the HBSB have been looking for solutions that will not compromise safety. They feel HAZUS provides such a solution. The advanced technology of the program will more accurately assess each hospital’s risk, resulting in an estimated 50 percent decrease in the number of hospitals placed in a high-risk category. Hospitals found to be lower-risk will be given an extension to meet the strict seismic requirements by 2030.
Joseph La Brie, SE and principal of Makeitright, Inc. serves as the vice chair of the HBSB and chair for the ADHOC Committee on HAZUS. Mr. La Brie believes that “the HAZUS methodology—with its recent adaptations, tailored specifically to conditions inherent to California hospitals—offers a way to systematically prioritize those buildings posing the greatest threat, and creates the opportunity to utilize design and construction resources in a more balanced and effective way.”