Assemblyman Cooley’s Bill to Save State’s Mobile Field Hospitals Advances

For immediate release:

Rancho Cordova- Assemblyman Ken Cooley’s effort to help strengthen California’s preparedness for natural disasters and catastrophic events moved forward today with bipartisan approval of AB 355 by the Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee. AB 355 will restore funding to the 2013-14 budget year to continue to maintain three mobile field hospitals in California, strategically placed throughout the state for rapid deployment.

“Scientists forecast California will almost certainly experience a devastating earthquake over the next 30 years,” said Assemblyman Cooley.  “In a state of 37 million, the capacity these hospitals offer to establish 600 hospital beds in any area within 72 hours of a disaster occurring is a key part of preparedness. It is our responsibility to be ready for the inevitable.”

California established its mobile field hospital program in 2006 by purchasing three, 200-bed mobile hospitals.  The hospitals were fully maintained until the 2011-12 budget year, when budget constraints eliminated the program’s funding. The program survived for the last two years via a short-term solution, which can no longer continue, and now risks permanent decommission. 

"California will be hit by natural disaster in the future ─ that's a certainty ─ and the mobile field hospitals could be a critical asset to the State of California as an integral part of the response and rebuilding," said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health. Van Gorder is considered an expert in mobile field hospital operation, having been involved with Scripps in the response to both Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake. "The flexibility of the mobile field hospital is not well understood. It can be deployed in a variety of ways, depending on situation and need. Just like we have military, law enforcement and fire resources held in reserve, we should do the same with medical resources and mobile field hospitals."

Based on the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF) model, California has over a 99% chance of experiencing a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake during the next 30 years. During the same time period, the probability of having a magnitude 7.5 or higher earthquake is 46%.

“It is not a question of ‘if’ California will face a catastrophic natural disaster, but when,” continued Cooley. “Mobile field hospitals are an integral part of disaster preparedness and I thank the committee members for recognizing their importance.”

For more information, please visit http://asmdc.org/members/a08/.

CONTACT: Jillena Hernandez, (916) 281-4832