John Sealy Hospital Fire Recovery

UTMB is developing and implementing recovery plans following a fire in a non-patient care area of John Sealy Hospital on Jan. 4. Jennie Sealy Hospital, the UTMB Trauma Center, TDCJ Hospital Galveston, all clinics and UTMB's two other campuses remain open and are fully operational. See updates below.

John Sealy Hospital fire recovery update
Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

The past week saw many services and functions return to John Sealy Hospital, after extensive cleanup and recovery on the Galveston Campus following a Jan. 4 fire.

Here’s an update on the progress that has been made:

John Sealy circle drive and entrance now open

The John Sealy Hospital circle drive is now open to vehicular traffic, and 24-hour front desk coverage has returned to the John Sealy main entrance. This John Sealy entrance serves as primary entrance for patients and families to the Women, Infant and Children’s departments (including Labor and Delivery), as well as for the Cath Lab and Center for Sleep Disorders. These services are now back in John Sealy and patients may be dropped off or picked up at the front entrance to John Sealy Hospital.


The main corridor in the John Sealy Hospital opened to pedestrians several weeks ago; however, elevators had remained closed. Visitor and staff elevators have now returned to normal service, with the exception of two staff elevators still designated for the ongoing construction work.

The John Sealy Hospital currently features the following services (by floor):

1 – Public/Coffee/Gift Shop/Front Desk
2 – Not yet occupied
3 – Labor and Delivery
4 – Cath Lab
5 – Not yet occupied
6 – Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care, plus Mother/ Baby overflow
7 – Mother/ Baby Unit
8 – Mother/ Baby Unit
9 – Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care
10 – High Risk OB (Antepartum) and Center for Sleep Disorders

We continue to work on the return of the Institute for Translational Sciences and TDCJ dialysis to the 5th floor of John Sealy, and to restore the Blocker Burn Unit on the second floor. Remember that in addition to fire restoration, a wing of the John Sealy Hospital is under construction and active renovation unrelated to the January fire. We wish to thank our patients and families for their patience during our recovery, and extend our deep appreciation to our hardworking staff for their remarkable efforts to get us to this point.

John Sealy Hospital fire recovery update
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, 11:55 a.m.

Cleanup and recovery operations continue at John Sealy Hospital on the Galveston Campus following the fire on Jan. 4. Here’s an update on the recovery efforts to date:

  • The first floor is open to pedestrian access, but all upper floors will continue to remain closed to pedestrians and patient care while building systems and equipment are being repaired and recertified for use.
  • Plans are underway to move multiple units back to John Sealy Hospital in a staged schedule beginning as early as Feb. 23. Each department will be contacted directly to assist in the planning process.
  • Please stay alert for patients and visitors looking for their destinations, as they may still enter the main lobby via the pedestrian walkways. Should you encounter a patient who needs assistance, please help him or her to their destination using the John Sealy Annex elevator bank.
John Sealy Hospital fire recovery update
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, 12:30 p.m.

Cleanup and recovery operations continue at John Sealy Hospital on the Galveston Campus following the fire on Jan. 4. Here’s an update on the recovery efforts to date:

  • Major cleaning of all areas in John Sealy Hospital will be completed by Feb. 4.
  • The first floor will be opened to pedestrian access on Feb. 6, but all upper floors will remain closed to pedestrians and to patient care.
  • Assessment, repair and re-certification of all floors (other than Level 2) will be completed by Feb. 28. They will be ready to re-occupy on March 1, and Health System is working on a detailed plan for that.
  • Repair and assessment of the second floor is underway, but it’s expected to take six months to complete repairs to that floor.
  • UTMB personnel continue to work with insurance teams to track our repair and business loss expenses for reimbursement.
Feedback requested—Fire response and recovery
Monday, Jan. 29, 2017, 5:00 p.m.

While the events of the fire on Jan. 4 are still fresh, members of the UTMB community are asked to please share top-of-mind recommendations/feedback that will help Health System leadership and the Incident Command Center better prepare for emergencies in the future. All comments or questions are welcome. Although name and email are not required, providing them will assist leadership in following up with you should we have additional questions or need clarification about your feedback. Please visit (access restricted to the UTMB network) to enter your response. Feedback topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Evacuation
  • Safety and security (during and after evacuation)
  • Communications
  • Resources (e.g., supplies, personnel, other assets)
  • Staff responsibilities
  • Utilities management
John Sealy main corridor to open Feb. 6
Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

UTMB plans to open a limited pedestrian and public thoroughfare on the first floor of John Sealy Hospital on February 6. The area will allow transit from Research Building 6 lobby to the John Sealy Hospital lobby and provide east-west connectivity on campus as well as connection to the cafeteria. Elevators and stairs will remain locked in this area, however, to prohibit pedestrian traffic on the upper floors of John Sealy Hospital.

Message from the President:
Update on John Sealy Hospital and Annex
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, 1 p.m.

David L. Callender, PresidentI am writing to provide an update on our recovery and the restoration of our operations from the fire and smoke damage which occurred at John Sealy Hospital and John Sealy Annex on January 4. It was a very serious event that caused substantial physical damage, but a real tragedy was averted by the calm, measured and even heroic actions of our employees who delivered all patients—and themselves—to safety.

Since the fire, tremendous efforts by numerous UTMB employees and faculty allowed us to quickly relocate patient care units affected by last week’s incident. Fortunately, John Sealy Annex was brought back on line quickly, allowing the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and some Labor and Delivery services to return to their permanent locations last Sunday. The Antepartum, Mother/Baby, Pediatrics and Burn Units, however, have been relocated to Jennie Sealy Hospital, where they are expected to remain until the John Sealy Towers reopen for patient care.

Our Emergency Department continues to be open for all patient transfers and emergency services, but we remain on “diversion” status for STEMI, or acute heart patients. At this time, we have only one Cardiac Catheterization Lab available in the Operating Room, which is adequate to serve our heart patients already in the hospital. We intend to activate a second Cardiac Catheterization Lab in the Interventional Radiology suite tomorrow. When this second lab is operational, we’ll be able to again accept STEMI patients through our Emergency Department and restore our full complement of heart services to all patients.

Regarding outpatient services affected by last week’s fire, we have relocated the burn clinic to the University Hospital Clinics (UHC). We will soon re-open our Galveston Sleep Lab in an alternative space, yet to be finalized.

While our physicians and employees have moved at breakneck pace to keep patient care services up and running, this massive relocation has temporarily displaced about 60 inpatient beds, which is significantly straining our overall capacity in Jennie Sealy Hospital. As a result, we are asking physicians, residents and care managers to ensure timely discharges of patients. We also are seeking patience, cooperation and collaboration on everyone’s part while we work through these space challenges and continue to deliver the Best Care to our patients. We expect to need 6-8 weeks to thoroughly clean and fully restore the most seriously damaged areas in John Sealy Hospital. Patient and employee safety is and will continue to be our first priority throughout the process.

As more information becomes available regarding timelines for full recovery, we will post updates on The site includes, among other information, links to a Health System intranet page with current locations of patient care units; a UTMB network connection or VPN connection is required to view the intranet page.

As I continue to hear stories about the compassion and bravery shown during this recent event, I am deeply grateful, impressed and proud to be part of such an amazing team of staff, faculty and health care professionals known to us as our UTMB family. As always, please feel free to share those stories with me and our executive vice presidents.

Thank you for all that you do to make UTMB a very successful—and special—place.

Dr. David L. Callender

Group and individual counseling available Thursday, Jan. 12
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, 8:15 a.m.

UTMB understands that experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as the fire and evacuation of the John Sealy Hospital and John Sealy Annex, can affect individuals in many ways. Some may experience an immediate emotional or physical reaction, while others may need more time to adjust to what happened. People respond to trauma differently, depending on their circumstances and previous history, and it is important to keep in mind that all reactions are normal and understandable.

To assist those directly or indirectly affected by the event last week, counselors from the University of Texas Employee Assistance Program (UTEAP) will be on the Galveston Campus Thursday, Jan. 12 for a group debriefing session and individual counseling sessions.

Get details...

Non-Patient Care Areas of John Sealy Annex now Opening
Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, 1:15 p.m.

Non-patient care areas, including offices and research labs, have re-opened on the 4th Floor and above in the John Sealy Annex so that employees can begin moving back into their workspaces.

The 3d floor is available for non-patient care use only.

The 2nd floor remains closed at this time.

Patient care areas in the John Sealy Annex remain CLOSED, as does the entire John Sealy Hospital. Access to John Sealy Annex is available only through the 4th Floor corridors from the Jennie Sealy Hospital and Clinical Services Wing, as well as through UTMB Health Clinics (UHC) and the Clinical Sciences Building.

Food Services Update
Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, Noon.

Café on the Court, including Subway, has re-opened, but with limited access due to closure of John Sealy Hospital.

To reach Café on the Court, use the 4th floor corridor in John Sealy ANNEX to get to the elevators near the back entrance to the café. Take those elevators to the first floor to enter the cafe. John Sealy Annex is accessible via the 4th floor, from the Clinical Sciences Building or from the Clinical Services Wing.

Retail food options also are available in the staff lounge located on the Sixth Floor of the Clinical Services Wing (CSW). Food is also available at Joe's Café (in the Student Center), and in the café off the ground-floor lobby of the Moody Medical Library. Please remember that a Starbucks self-service machine is also conveniently located within the vending area of the CSW Staff Lounge.

Einstein Bagels will revert to normal operating hours, closing at 7 p.m.

UNTIL 2 P.M. JAN. 5: A cash-only pizza line has been set up off the main lobby on the 2nd floor of Jennie Sealy Hospital.

Recap of Events and Activity

UTMB is currently developing plans for recovery following a fire in a non-patient care area at John Sealy Hospital on the Galveston Campus Wednesday afternoon.

The fire was extinguished and smoke dissipated, and all patients who were evacuated from John Sealy Hospital and John Sealy Annex were safely accommodated, along with all personnel who were working in those locations. UTMB is actively working to create intermediate operating plans as the affected facilities are reactivated.

However, because there is water and smoke damage related to the event, UTMB is working to determine next steps with regard to work shifts and patient care in affected areas.

According to UTMB Police, both John Sealy Hospital and John Sealy Annex remain closed to all personnel and patients until further notice (parts of the Annex are now being opened, as of Thursday afternoon). Jennie Sealy Hospital, the UTMB Trauma Center and TDCJ Hospital Galveston are still open and fully operational.

Additional facilities adjacent to the affected sites—McCullough Building, UTMB Health Clinics, Clinical Sciences Building, Research Building 6 and Waverley Smith Pavilion—will be open Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 a.m. Access to those buildings will be limited to those working or with business in those areas. UTMB Police and other UTMB personnel will be on hand to assist. In addition:

  • Food service will be limited and alternative dining options are being explored (please see sidebar).
  • All parking garages will be operating normally.
  • In order to access buildings on campus, employees, contractors and students should continue to wear their UTMB identification badges.
  • Clinical teams should continue to stay in contact with their supervisors and follow established protocols.
  • All non-clinical personnel whose departments were affected by the evacuation: Please check with your supervisors on Thursday morning (Jan. 5) to determine where to report to work.
  • Educational activities will continue as scheduled on Thursday, Jan. 5.

This new website——will be the main source for all information related to the recovery and updates will be posted as information becomes available.

All employees should follow established protocols and use existing channels for any questions or concerns that arise, including patient-care needs.

Thank you to our first responders, EMS and staff who safely moved all of our patients and their visitors.

primary routes through hospital Complex:

Maps are available showing primary access points and routes through the hospital complex on levels 1, 2 and 4, following the fire and associated renovations. The documents show the route to the cafeteria, Labor & Delivery and NICU areas. Mar. 1, 2017: Currently being updated to indicate reopening of many areas of John Sealy Hospital 

Fire Renovation Area Route Maps

For Clinicians and Patient Support Staff:
Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, 10 a.m.

The Health System Intranet features updates on current conditions and key information for clinical staff, including a matrix listing the interim locations for services and patients moved from John Sealy Hospital. The list includes contact phone numbers.

Access the patient relocation list and related recovery information
(For patient safety and privacy, page is restricted to internal use.)

Pregnant women presenting to any UTMB entrance should be escorted and/or transported to John Sealy Annex 3rd floor Labor and Delivery Triage. As always, in an emergency call 409-772-4000 (ext. 2-4000).

The Day Surgery Unit and TDCJ PACU were put back into standard operation for cases as of this morning (Monday, January 9, 2017).

The Incident Command Center officially closed down Sunday at 1 p.m.

Important reminder: Please do not enter John Sealy Hospital Towers or patient care areas of John Sealy Annex until further notice. Outpatient endoscopy and radiology patients are being instructed to enter via the UHC entrance or Jennie Sealy Hospital. Recovery crews are working diligently to return the affected buildings to service, and the presence of people not on the crew delays reopening. If you have a legitimate need to enter closed areas, please contact the Health System Administrator on Call for assistance.

Timekeeping Update:

To ensure employees displaced by the fire and smoke event on Jan. 4 are properly compensated, please refer to the following timekeeping information.

January 4

  • Employees required to evacuate will receive regular pay for the remainder of their shift.
  • Please be advised that employees may need to correct a missed time punch in the Kronos system for this day to ensure they receive their regular pay.

January 5

  • Employees who were instructed by their department heads not to report for duty while emergency operations were in place will be granted Administrative Leave.
  • Employees were expected to return to work once normal operations resumed in the afternoon and will receive regular pay for the remainder of the day.
  • Any employee who did not return to work as required must use his or her vacation and/or holiday leave accruals. If the employee has exhausted all leave accruals, then the employee should use leave without pay for the scheduled hours not worked.

For questions or more information, please contact your manager or assigned HR consultant.