UTMB employees get notice of layoffs

November 18, 2008 1:59:17 PM PST
The dreaded day has arrived for thousands of UTMB employees in Galveston. The hospital has begun the process of notifying the workers of exactly who is getting laid-off.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

UTMB workers have known about the layoffs for more than week, but that does little to lessen the blow of losing your job.

Most of those individuals who are being notified today that they are losing their jobs are being told face to face, through a phone call or through an email. They all primarily worked in the clinical side of things at the hospital. Most of those workers have not been at work because they haven't been able to return to the hospital after Hurricane Ike damaged the building so badly.

"Yeah, it's time to go. I got my orders," said unemployed worker Tino Gonzalez.

For the last 20 years, Gonzalez has worked in Human Resources at UTMB. He is among the 3,000 employees who no longer have a job.

"Everybody is kind of nervous about it," said UTMB spokesperson John Kolen. "And I don't think really a whole lot of people want to be here today to get the bad news or to give the bad news."

"I don't know yet, but I will be OK," said employee Katsuhiro Kiat, PhD.

Kiat works in the research department and although cuts will be made in his department he doesn't feel his job will be lost. He does think that the UTMB Board of Regents is using the damage caused by Hurricane Ike as an excuse for needed downsizing.

"Unfortunately, I would say the storm and the financial across of the state could have exposed the weakness of this institution. That is what I can see," said Kiat.

By the end of the year, the 116 year old institution will be scaled down to a 200 bed unit. The hospital's spokesman John Kolen says it could be years before the hospital is fully operational as it was before Hurricane Ike.

"It would be ideal if we could hire back former employees but by the time we are ready to hire them back, they will more than likely have already found jobs," said Kolen.

Mr. Gonzalez told Eyewitness News he was going to take the advice of his 13-year-old son who told him to take a couple of weeks off and maybe start looking for a job at the beginning of the year.

UTMB is staffing two Employee Help Centers, one centrally located on the mainland and one on the island (http://www.utmb.edu/utmbemployeehelpcenter). Both centers are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Services and resources include job search counseling, job fairs, training on interviewing, resume writing and online job searches, employee benefit and retirement counseling, financial counseling and training, and counseling for personal issues.

Tomorrow, UTMB will be notifying more employees and hope to have everyone notified by the beginning of next week.

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