Citrus Valley looks to retrofits to remedy high collapse risk

The main building at the Queen of the Valley campus of Citrus Valley Medical Center has a 30.36 percent chance of collapsing in a major earthquake, state regulators have found.

That is the second worst rating among hospital buildings statewide that have undergone special testing, according to a California Watch investigation last year.

The building is one of three at the nine-building West Covina hospital campus rated a “1” – the lowest rating on the state’s five-point scale of measuring how likely a hospital facility is to collapse in a major earthquake. Queen of the Valley’s South Wing addition has a 9.74 percent chance of collapsing, while a service building has a score of 6.5 percent, according to state measurements.

Citrus Valley officials say they plan to retrofit all three buildings by 2015 to boost them to a “2” rating. An engineering firm hired by the hospital has been reviewing the campus and will submit plans to state regulators by the end of the year, said Tracy Dallarda, Citrus Valley senior vice president for communications and public relations said via email.

The main building’s low rating stems from an older state assessment, and engineering consultants are requesting a new review under a newer system, according to Dallarda.

Citrus Valley Medical Center includes two hospitals in the Covina area: Queen of the Valley, a 325-bed Catholic non-profit facility, and Inter-Community in Covina, a 193-bed non-denominational non-profit. The two facilities merged in 1995 to create Citrus Valley, said spokeswoman Annette Macias.

Inter-Community has its own challenges when it comes to earthquake safety. State regulators have assigned poor “1” ratings to six of its 10 buildings, including the main building and generator building. As of January, none had undergone voluntary state testing to determine how likely they are to collapse in an earthquake, according to state records.

Citrus Valley plans to retrofit buildings at Inter-Community by 2015, Dallarda said. At both campuses, it hopes to use a new state approach to retrofitting, one that targets key structural elements that need fixing, such as particular walls or supports. That approach can reduce construction costs while improving building safety, state regulators say.

All of the buildings at a third Citrus Valley hospital, Foothill Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora, have received acceptable structural ratings from the state.

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