Jennie Sealy Hospital dedication celebrates UTMB’s resilience and vision

Mar 21, 2016, 07:46 AM by KirstiAnn Clifford
“Welcome to your new Jennie Sealy Hospital—an indelible sign of what vision and hope and hard work can inspire.”

President David Callender’s remarks drew a standing ovation from a crowd of about 700 state and local dignitaries, UTMB employees, students, friends and volunteers who gathered in the spacious second floor concourse of the new Jennie Sealy Hospital to witness its formal dedication on Feb. 26.

It was a bright and sunny day in Galveston, as many attendees arrived for their first glimpse inside the $438 million state-of-the-art facility. Callender thanked everyone who made the new hospital a reality after Hurricane Ike devastated the island eight years ago. He noted contributions both large and small—from The Sealy & Smith Foundation’s $170 million gift, to UTMB staff who stood by when the future of UTMB was unknown.

“We will not soon forget you and what you have done for UTMB,” said Callender. “The staffers, who stood on muddy street corners after Ike to hand out paychecks and cash to colleagues because there was no other way to make sure our people got paid. Or the specialists who ran two miles of extension cord so the lights on our tower would shine on the Sunday after the storm passed on Saturday to let people know UTMB was still standing. . . . This is a celebration of a resilient people whose will, determination and just plain stubbornness lifted UTMB from the dark throws of devastation in 2008 into the bright light of this beautiful day.”

As the keynote speaker, U.S. Senator John Cornyn noted UTMB’s rich 125-year legacy and said the new hospital proves that UTMB is in no way slowing down. He mentioned the collective efforts of many, including his friends in the Texas legislature who helped secure funding for the expansion and redevelopment of the medical branch.

“This collective support translates into more lives saved, more doctors trained and more groundbreaking discoveries made,” said Cornyn. “Today is about more than just a building, but the future of medical innovation. With UTMB, the future of health care is bright.”

EmployeeToursFollowing the dedication, attendees were able to tour many floors of the new hospital, including patient rooms and the 20 operating suites and intraoperative MRI room. Nearly all who looked out from the11th floor patient rooms couldn’t help but comment on the awe-inspiring views of Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Others commented on the beach-themed art throughout the hospital, which features local artists.

“This is awesome!” said Isaac Ohalete, a software systems specialist with the School of Medicine. “I’ve been to a lot of hospitals, but this is breathtaking. It’s so beautiful and amazing. So far, I’ve seen the recovery rooms and Day Surgery areas—and I found my name on the Family Campaign Wall of Honor!”

Dora Kuntz, a clinical educator, will be working on several different floors in Jennie when it opens to patients on April 9. Besides the breathtaking views, she said the space makes a huge difference.

“It’s the openness—there’s just so much more room,” said Kuntz. “You won’t beEmployeeTours2 turning around and tripping on things. Nurses can get in patient rooms to take care of them without saying ‘Excuse me, let me move this chair out of my way so I can get to you.’ It’s just so much more patient and provider friendly. And some rooms have lifts built in already, so that will encourage more mobility, as well. The way this hospital is laid out, patients are going to want to be mobile and up moving around.”

In addition to the bright and spacious healing environment, the new hospital is equipped to weather future storms. All of the hospital’s activity begins on the second floor, a full 25 feet above sea level, protecting vital functions from flood waters. It’s a reminder that, although Galveston will always face the prospect of another hurricane, UTMB stops for no storm.

To see video and photo highlights from the Jennie Sealy Dedication Ceremony, Employee Open House and Community Open House, visit