UTMB to lay off 3,800 employees

November 12, 2008 7:31:56 PM PST
Eyewitness News has learned that the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston will lay off 3,800 employees.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

For weeks we have been waiting to learn the fate of the employees at UTMB. The facility suffered about $700 million worth of damage during Hurricane Ike. The University of Texas System has just announced layoffs at UTMB in Galveston of 3,800 positions.

We have few details on this late breaking development. Eyewitness News has confirmed with the UT system in Austin that the estimated 3,800 layoffs will be institution wide, not just the hospital. UTMB, its medical school and research arm, employs about 12,000 people. About 90 % of the researchers are back to work after Ike.

But it's a different story at the hospital, which took about three to six feet of water. Only the labor and delivery department is running at full speed, and they have a pared-down emergency room, with some portable rooms that they can use for emergency surgery.

Dr. David Callender, president of UTMB, is about to send a message out to his employees. At this point, it is not known the departments where the layoffs will occur. We do know that Dr. Callender has said in the past that they were considering a scaled down 200 bed hospital, about a third the size of the present hospital.

Another concern -- UTMB is a level 1 trauma center. Without a full hospital it would lose that ability to take care of trauma, and that would put more pressure on Houston's two trauma centers -- Ben Taub and Memorial Hermann Hospitals.

    UTMB President Dr. David Callender released the following statement:
    I write this with a heavy heart. Earlier today, The University of Texas System Board of Regents directed us to proceed with a reduction in force designed to align the number of UTMB employees with a much smaller clinical enterprise. (UT System will be posting more information today at )

    Over the next few days, we will work closely with UT System officials to finalize those plans, and we anticipate making a more detailed announcement sometime next week. The Regents strongly support us in our commitment to do everything possible to lessen the impact on employees whose positions will be affected.

    Although the decision to proceed with a reduction in force is necessary given the financial challenges brought on by Hurricane Ike, everyone involved is deeply saddened by the impact this will have on people who have served UTMB well and whose lives have been irrevocably changed.

    Above all, we will do our best to maintain an environment of compassion and respect as we all work through this most difficult time.

    David L. Callender
    UTMB President

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