This is a pleasant surprise.
The University of Texas Medical Branch hospital, still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Ike, will remain on Galveston Island under a plan approved today.
The decision by the University of Texas Board of Regents not to move patient beds, teaching and research facilities inland should be positive news to area elected officials and local citizens who wanted to the damaged operation to remain. The plan, however, depends on new funding from the Legislature over time.
"This board, by this vote, is deeply committed to the future of keeping UTMB on Galveston Island, but this decision is not our decision alone," said board chairman Scott Caven Jr., referring to the need for recovery money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, philanthropic sources and the state.
The regents had been considering a consultant's recommendation that some beds be moved off the island to compensate for the as much as $710 million in damage and losses caused by the hurricane, which came ashore in Galveston in September, destroying lower floors at UTMB's John Sealy Hospital.
The $285,000 consultant's report recommended that the hospital be rebuilt in League City, saying it had a better chance there of making a profit by competing for paying patients.
State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, applauded the regents' decision to rebuild the island campus. He said the effort, including the renovation of a damaged hospital and the construction of a new medical tower, could cost as much as $1 billion over time.
"We've come a long way, and we're on the right path, and we're all moving in the same direction," he said. "We've still got to get to May. We've got to make sure that the Legislature funds the plan."