Mission Hospital Laguna Beach soon will be able to better withstand shaking from an earthquake.
The hospital at 31872 S. Coast Hwy., part of the St. Joseph Health system, is embarking on a $15-million seismic retrofit project, according to a news release.
The project will be done in seven phases in a two-year period — upon completion the hospital will meet the state's seismic medical building requirements through 2030, the release said.
Workers have begun construction improvements, which will impact the following units: behavioral health, intensive care, in-patient chemical dependency and medical/surgical, according to Michael Beck, the hospital's vice president of operations.
Crews will work on three to four rooms at a time to reduce the impact to patients and staff.
Work includes structural upgrades to columns and beams, such as creating more flexible steel and adding double-pane windows.
"In an earthquake, the joint can shake without coming apart," said Beck.
One or two ambulances will be on site to transport patients if certain units reach capacity during construction, Beck said.
Mission Hospital has 107 beds in its four in-patient units.
The hospital is paying out of pocket for the project, which costs $70 million less than first estimated, Beck said. He said the project has been in the works since Mission acquired South Coast Medical Center in July 2009.
Beck cited two reasons for the decrease in expected cost: new engineering capabilities and revised state criteria for meeting seismic requirements.
Beck said he let surrounding residents know about the project and gave them a number to call ((949) 499-1311) if they have questions or need to report a problem.