Seismic Strengthening of Hospitals

Posted by cdj On May - 3 - 2013

Hospital reconstruction and seismic strengthening provided continuous demand for construction design and engineering services in recent years. (See NISEE, Dec 9, 2011) In California, compliance with mandatory seismic performance objectives for critical health care facilities is largely supervised through the California Office of Statewide Planning and Development (OSPD). A hospital’s ability to function adequately after a large earthquake is dependent on the building’s structural components (a building’s primary load carrying system of foundation, columns, beams, floors, walls and roof), non-structural components (building elements such as ceilings, partitions, pipes, mechanical and electrical, that are not part of the structural load-bearing system), occupants (staff and patients) and contents (equipment, supplies, furnishings, etc.) remaining largely undamaged. Hospital serviceability after natural disaster relies on robust interconnectedness of lifeline systems (water, power, transportation, etc.) that support hospital services. The constitution of structural, non-structural and contents may provide unique seismic strengthening challenges for hospitals.

For seismic strengthening of modern hospital buildings, reliable site-specific loss estimation techniques (e.g.: Blume-157) can account for structural and non-structural damage. Engineering building codes (e.g.: ICBO, FEMA, California Building Codes), applied research programs (e.g.: ATC-58, MCEER, Japan E-Defense) and sophisticated testing methodologies to analyze and strengthen structural and many non-structural systems to resist moderate to strong earthquake shaking or geotechnical damage are reasonably advanced. Video of recent shake-table testing at the University of California, San Diego (‘Building it Better: Earthquake-Resilient Hospitals for the Future’) confirms some ability to achieve both structural and non-structural hospital resilience after credible earthquakes in California.

More precise seismic fragility functions for hospital building contents and medical equipment (Zolfaghari, Porter, Furukawa) exist but experimental testing and verification of equipment fragility curves are confounded by prohibitive costs of testing very expensive medical equipment to a complete damage state (from high floor accelerations or from building displacements).

Similarly, analytical assessments of regional medical systems interconnectedness after natural disaster have been proposed (Lupoi, G. , Lupoi, A.) but can be fully tested only after a strong regional earthquake.

Damaged Olive View Medical Facility, Sylmar, CA, 1971

Veterans Administration Hospital, Sylmar, CA, 1971

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