A big boost for our public hospitals

Even Assemblyman Jim Beall would agree that great news doesn’t come out of Sacramento every day…but thanks to him, and the Governor, today is one of those days!

That’s Jim there, on the right, next to Assemblyman Ira Ruskin. They helped us break ground on the new VMC Bed Building a couple of Fridays ago…and now, with the passage of Jim Beall’s AB303, other public hospitals have a chance to do the same.

As for VMC, Jim’s legislation gives us options on speeding up our construction plans and leveraging the generosity of the voters who last year passed Measure A. Check out the news release from Assemblyman Beall’s office below, and help me thank a great leader who has been championing VMC for a very long time. HOORAY JIM!

For Immediate Release: 10/12/2009 Contact: Rodney Foo 408.282.8920

Legislation authored by Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr. to help hospitals obtain federal funds to finance and complete state-mandated seismic safety improvements was signed by the Governor.

“Assembly Bill 303 ensures our emergency rooms can remain open during a catastrophe,’’ Beall said. “It also creates thousands of construction jobs statewide. It’s a stimulus package that works on two fronts.’’

Assembly Bill 303 allows specified public hospitals and some private hospitals that are contracted to serve Medi-Cal patients to use local funding in place of state funding to qualify for reimbursement from the federal Construction Renovation Reimbursement Program for new capital projects to meet state seismic safety deadlines. Currently, there is no state funding available to draw those federal funding.

After 11 hospitals were completely or partially closed in the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the Legislature passed a 2013 deadline for hospitals to begin safety retrofitting or replacement of their most vulnerable buildings. The law also requires that hospital buildings with retrofitting must be replaced by 2030. Fifteen years ago, the initial total cost was projected at $14 billion to make the buildings safe. But more detailed and accurate studies have now placed that figure at $110 billion or more.

The bill’s passage was hailed by hospital officials on Monday.

“This bill really means a lot to us as a Public Safety Net institution,’’ said Kim Roberts, chief executive officer of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Santa Clara County’s biggest hospital. “Public Safety Net hospitals have the greatest challenge of how to meet the seismic mandates because we don’t have the funding. This bill is a great example of creativity.’’

Said Ron Smith, senior vice president of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California: “In the current financial situation our country faces, this bill allows about 60 hospitals to raise enough capital to rebuild. It’s likely many of these hospitals would have otherwise closed. Without Assemblymember Jim Beall’s bill many of these hospitals might have closed.’’

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