Assembly Approves 1.96 Million Dollars to Restore California's Mobile Field Hospitals

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At the request of Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services unanimously voted last week to restore $1.96 million in funding to California’s three mobile field hospitals that had been eliminated from the previous three state budgets.

Each field hospital is a complete 200 bed acute care hospital facility equipped with X-ray facilities, laboratories, pharmacy services and an oxygen concentration system. In the event of a disaster, mobile field hospitals may be deployed where needed to provide medical care to the injured. Mobile field hospitals can provide relief to over-strained hospitals who experience an influx of patients after a disaster. Most importantly, field hospitals are an important back-up in the event that a hospital is severely damaged.

The state purchased the three hospitals in 2007, however due to California’s budget crises funding for the mobile field hospitals was eliminated in 2011. As a result, the three hospitals may not be able to be used if a disaster were to strike.

“As an Emergency Medical Technician of 30 years, I know how important it is to get medical treatment to the injured as quickly as possible,” said Rodriguez. “The mobile field hospitals are vital resources to have in the event of a disaster, especially here in California where studies have shown that a major earthquake is likely to strike within the next 30 years. We have been fortunate that a major disaster has not hit California, however we must be ready for when one does. The time to prepare for a disaster and restore these hospitals is now.”

After the 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake in 1994, 11 hospitals had severe damage and 8 had to be evacuated. Seismologists have warned that there is a 99% chance that California will experience an earthquake of greater magnitude than the Northridge quake in the next 25 to 30 years. An earthquake of this magnitude will cause an even greater health care disruption than what was experienced during the Northridge earthquake.

Part of the $1.96 million will be used to relocate one of the hospitals to Southern California. As a result of budget cuts, all three hospitals were placed in storage in Northern California. If a major disaster strikes in Southern California and severely damages transportation routes to the region, a field hospital would likely not be able to be transported to the disaster site. This would cut off vital medical care from the most populous region of California.

“California is a large state,” said Assemblymember Rodriguez. “It makes sense to have a mobile field hospital located in Southern California and not all concentrated in one location. Southern California is the most at risk for a major earthquake and it is imperative that a field hospital be located in the region so that it can be deployed quickly. We do not want a situation where a field hospital is unable to reach a disaster area and victims are unable to receive timely medical care.”

###

Assemblymember Rodriguez is Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Local Emergency Preparedness, and Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.  He represents the 52nd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona and portions of unincorporated Fontana.

CONTACT: Francisco Estrada, (916) 319-2052