The University of Texas Medical Branch is proceeding with plans to build a new hospital after the UT System Board of Regents gave its approval and the Galveston-based Sealy & Smith Foundation pledged $170 million toward the project.

“We greatly appreciate the continued confidence that the Regents, the foundation and Texas elected officials have in UTMB,” said Dr. David L. Callender, UTMB president. 

“This new hospital represents a major milestone in the university’s recovery from Hurricane Ike,” Callender added. “It is also a vital part of UTMB’s long-range plans for ensuring a sufficient and highly trained health care work force for Texas.”

UTMB provides health care across the state, serving more than 600,000 patients last year. Callender noted that the state-of-the-art clinical facility will complement UTMB’s growing network of primary and specialty clinics, enabling the institution to meet the health care needs of a rapidly growing region and state.

The $438 million Jennie Sealy Hospital will feature nearly 250 family-centered patient rooms, state-of-the-art surgical suites and intensive care space, and areas for visiting and consultations with caregivers. The facility will complement the existing John Sealy Hospital, which currently is being renovated and modernized. 

Dr. Kenneth Shine, executive vice chancellor for health affairs at UT System, praised the project.“The Jennie Sealy Hospital will be a tremendous asset for the people of Texas, our health care professionals and the generations of students who will learn in an environment that represents the best of the art and science of medicine.”

After the board vote, The Sealy & Smith Foundation formally announced its $170 million commitment, which is the largest single gift to a Texas health institution. With that contribution, the foundation has cumulatively given nearly $800 million to UTMB over the course of its 89-year history.

Callender praised the foundation’s commitment, saying that “many of the advances in health and health care delivery that UTMB has made over the years would not have occurred without the continued, extraordinary support of the foundation. Through its contributions to the university, the foundation has provided hope and healing to multiple generations. This latest commitment will provide hope and healing to many more.”

During the last two sessions, the Texas Legislature approved and appropriated debt service for a $150 million Tuition Revenue Bond to support construction. The remaining $118 million in construction costs will be funded by UTMB and through a planned effort to raise $100 million in additional philanthropy. Construction is expected to be complete in 2015.

John W. Kelso, president of The Sealy & Smith Foundation, said the foundation was “proud to help UTMB build for the future. This commitment adds to a legacy of providing support to ensure that UTMB continues to provide the best possible health care for future generations.”

The Sealy & Smith Foundation was established in 1922 by the children of John Sealy, a Galveston businessman and civic leader who, upon his death in 1884, left $50,000 for “a charitable purpose.” That bequest led to construction of the first John Sealy Hospital in 1890 and, one year later, the state’s first medical school.

In its 89 years, the foundation has provided nearly $800 million to UTMB to build hospitals, including the current John Sealy Hospital, construct research facilities, a trauma center and outpatient clinical buildings that have, in large part, led to the vibrant UTMB campus of today. The foundation also has provided funding for highly-specialized medical equipment and a number of endowed positions that enable UTMB to attract the highest caliber of clinical and research faculty.