SYLMAR : Quake Prompts Redesign of Hospital Addition

Construction of a much-needed emergency room and prenatal facility at Olive View Medical Center in Sylmar will be delayed at least four months while engineers scramble to improve the design of the steel-frame building after the high failure rate of similar structures in the Northridge quake.

Tearing up the blueprint and redesigning the proposed four-story building will cost at least $2 million extra, officials said. The county plans to apply to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for reimbursement.

But the redesign of the $54-million building could end up saving lives, said Larry Colvin, director of the county Department of Health Services' facilities implementation team. Colvin said several other proposed buildings in the county's $2.3-billion health facilities replacement and improvement plan may also have to be redesigned.

"In reality, we could go ahead and build using our current designs because the plans were approved before the Northridge quake," Colvin said. "But it would be the wrong thing to do. It's important to build the safest structures possible to avoid the potential of a collapse."

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