By Deborah Schoch, California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting
While reporting "Fault Lines," our new series on hospitals and earthquake safety, I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if a quake rocked Alhambra, where our offices are located.
Would the injured seek care at the small hospital up the street? Would its doors stay open?
Last Sunday, the Pasadena Star-News and two affiliate daily newspapers started running our series, "Hospital Readiness on Shaky Ground," bolstered by a wealth of new reporting by their newsroom staffs.
Thanks to their intrepid research, I now know that Alhambra Hospital Medical Center has a low “1” state rating on non-structural readiness. That means that its emergency power, lighting, or communications lack the safeguards to assure that patients can be evacuated safety.
If local hospitals can’t treat the injured after a quake, Los Angeles County has back-up plans.
I learned that 13 hospitals throughout the region have Disaster Resource Centers equipped with tent shelters, each capable of housing at least 40 patients for the first 48 hours after a disaster.
Los Angeles County also has two $3.5 million mobile medical systems, with two 53-foot tractor trailers and a portable field hospital, which together can treat 200 people, the newspapers reported.
The new reporting was spearheaded by Rebecca Kimitch, city editor at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, based in West Covina.
By the way, Alhambra Hospital is applying for an upgrade to a “2,” allowing a safe evacuation, and administrators want even better safeguards, the Star-News reported. That’s heartening news for everyone who lives and works in Alhambra.