UT System Chancellor Dr. Cigarroa and UTMB President Dr. Callender testified today at the Capitol in the House Appropriations Committee over UTMB reconstruction and the money needed. Today, UT System’s study done by consultants (taxpayer expensce $250,000 plus) said that everything but the prison hospital should be moved to League City while a state panel recommended the opposite: restore everything back to Galveston and hurricane-proof it.
An interesting part of the calculation is the the Sealy & Smith Foundation in Galveston has pledged tens of millions of dollars to give to UTMB, but their charter restricts their giving to Galveston Island. If the state wants to move UTMB out, they’ll be missing out on the chance to save some money. A noteable presence in the Senate Finance Committee hearing two days ago was former state Senator Kyle Janek M.D. who represented Galveston until last year. “It’s no accident,” someone pointed out, “that Sealy & Smith Foundation hired him to be their lobbyist.” It’s no accident that he is a UTMB and Ball High School graduate either.
After testimony by Callender, State Representative Craig Eiland (D-Galveston) sang UTMB’s praises to the committee including our board scores, class diversity, and our #1 trauma center in America. The president of UTHSC-Houston got on the panel and stated that with UTMB’s trauma center and ER down, UTHSC-Houston’s trauma center is now the busiest trauma center in America (annual patients 7200, up from 5000). Questions were raised about re-locating the trauma center. Callender also said that they would rather not move the center to the mainland because they want to stay close the to Ship Channel and petrochemical refineries nearby. They said the expense of moving the trauma center to the mainland would be too much, and they’d rather keep it where it is.
Eiland then abundantly pointed out the Southeast Texas counties (and South Texas) that desperately need UTMB for their indigent care obligations. Post-hurricane, they have been having to renegotiate specialty care referrals with local institutions which is a hassle for county politicians.
Galveston County Daily News – “The demise of health care in Galveston“