UTMB Hit Hard by Ike
The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX was established in 1891 and is known as the oldest medical school west of the Mississippi River. Last year, there were more than 37,000 admissions to UTMB hospitals, nearly 764,000 outpatient visits, and almost 71,000 emergency room visits. More than 12,000 faculty and staff work at UTMB’s main campus and its network of community-based clinics, making UTMB by far the biggest employer on Galveston island.
After sustaining a direct hit by Hurricane Ike, UTMB has been slow to recover and its future is in jeopardy. UTMB suffered over $700 million in damages from Ike with only $100 million covered by insurance, and given their $50 million per month payroll and impaired ability to generate income, this week university officials were warning of massive layoffs of up to 4,000 employees.
While UTMB president David Callender and UT System Chancellor Kenneth Chine said there would be no layoffs for now, they painted a very bleak financial picture for UTMB and acknowledged that jobs would be cut in the future.
The medical branch, which operates a hospital, research laboratories and a medical school, would return, but not as it was, Callender said.
Callender said that John Sealy Hospital, which supplies the bulk of the jobs at UTMB, would be reduced from a 600-bed facility to 200 beds. He also floated the idea that the hospital could be moved to a location in League City.
In my opinion, the fall of UTMB would represent the biggest tragedy of Hurricane Ike, and I hope that they can eventually survive this storm as they once survived the Great Hurricane of 1900.