Facility Development, Media Center

Making California Hospitals Safer

Photo of a hospital building under construction with landscaping being installed

After the 1971 Sylmar earthquake damaged several hospitals, California embarked on an ambitious hospital safety program.

Hospitals are the first place the public turns to after an earthquake or other disaster. It is crucial that hospitals remain standing and operable for the safety of patients, visitors, and staff – and for continuity of care.

Since 1984, the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) has overseen the state’s initiative to ensure that no acute care hospital building has a significant risk of collapse by the year 2020.

Today, more than 95% of California’s acute care hospitals meet or exceed the state’s seismic standards for the 2020 deadline.

California has achieved an 87% reduction in the number of hospitals that pose “a significant risk of collapse and danger to the public” in the last 18 years. By 2020, all hospitals must be able to withstand a strong quake.

The CA building seismic evaluation codes range from 1-5, with SPC-1 defined as “buildings posing a significant risk of collapse and danger to the public.” In 2001, there were 1027 hospitals categorized as SPC-1, only 184 remain.

Find Your Neighborhood Hospitals: Then and Now

Move the slider bar below from left to right to switch between seeing 2001 and 2019 hospitals. There has been an 87% reduction in hospitals designated at significant risk of collapse.