UTMB versus Shriners

Well, this might help keep Shiners Galveston Hospital open.

The University of Texas Medical Branch on Friday asked a judge to stop Shriners Hospital for Children Galveston from locking its doors and imperiling millions of dollars in shared burn research.

UTMB asked Galveston County District Judge Wayne Mallia for a temporary restraining order and an injunction preventing Shriners from padlocking its hospital and its world-renowned burn center by a Tuesday deadline.

Ralph Semb, chairman and CEO of Shriners Hospitals for Children, said he was puzzled by the lawsuit because Shriners was prepared to give UTMB two more weeks to vacate the hospital.


UTMB was given only two weeks notice to move all laboratories and researchers out of the Shriners hospital, which is across the street from UTMB’s John Sealy Hospital and is connected by a walkway to UTMB’s Blocker Burn Center, Dr. Garland Anderson, UTMB executive vice president and provost, said at a news conference.

Anderson said it would take at least six months to a year to move all the equipment and researchers to a condemned building that had been slated for destruction. He said UTMB had tried to negotiate with Shriners headquarters but was unable to make any headway.

Nearly $14 million in ongoing research is at stake, officials said.

“If the laboratories and burn units were forced out in only a few days time, the damage would be catastrophic and irreparable,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says that an affiliation agreement between UTMB and Shriners requires a five-year notice of termination.

Sure does seem like keeping the hospital open would solve a lot of problems, wouldn’t it? Let’s hope the national Shriners see it that way. There’s a hearing for April 6, so perhaps we’ll get an answer by then.

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