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Doctors: New hospital or retrofit?
Tenet must decide how to comply with seismic standards
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Doctors Hospital of Manteca when it opened 51 years ago as Manteca Hospital. - photo by Photo Contributed

A looming 2030 seismic safety deadline is spurring Doctors Hospital of Manteca to explore whether to retrofit its existing facility at North Street and Cottage Avenue or build elsewhere in Manteca.

The California Legislature has mandated that hospitals such as Doctors must be able to withstand a major earthquake of 7.0 or higher on the Richter scale. The legislation was the outgrowth of the 1973 Sylmar earthquake in Southern California. That’s when the San Fernando Veterans Administration Hospital collapsed, another hospital was destroyed, an additional 22 hospitals had to suspend some or all of their services, two interchanges collapsed, and 65 people died. There was $3 billion worth of damage to hospital as the result of the 6.6 earthquake.

“We’ve got a few more years yet before we need to make a decision,” noted Nicholas Tejeda who serves as Doctors Hospital of Manteca’s chief executive officer.

Tejeda said Tenet is exploring options involving the current site and nearby land as well as talking with developers about other possible locations in Manteca.

The U.S. Geological Survey puts the odds at 80 to 90 percent that a significant earthquake of 7.0 or higher on the Richter scale will hit Southern California in the next 20 years. There is a 62 percent chance of a similar quake happening in Northern California before 2030.

The 1989 Loma Prieta quake that collapsed the double-decked Nimitz Freeway in Oakland killing dozens of people, collapsed a section of the Bay Bridge, and brought down a number of buildings was 6.9 on the Richter scale. There were 63 people killed, 3,757 injured and up to 12,000 homeless

The state has indicated there are 145 hospital buildings throughout California that are out-of-compliance for the seismic regulation.

The original deadline was 2015 for all hospitals. It was extended due to the recession and a concern the massive cost would force entire hospitals to shut down due to the fact they couldn’t afford to do the retrofit work or build new hospitals.

The cost of work to be done is estimated at $110 billion excluding financing costs.