Ike, Schmike: Galveston children hospital to rebuild

July 7, 2009

It was hit by two hurricanes in September 2008 -- one literal and one financial -- but the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston will be reopening.

It was hit by two hurricanes in September 2008 -- one literal and one financial -- but the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston will be reopening.

Five million dollars seems like a drop in the bucket nowadays, with Ike's total destruction in the US alone being estimated at $24 billion. But that was enough to almost entirely close down Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Tex. In January, plans to continue reconstruction were halted. Many staff members have left the area, or found other positions.

At a national Shriners' convention on Monday, delegates voted 756 to 482 to reopen the Galveston branch, which had one of the region's biggest pediatric burn units – 15 beds. For the time being, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has been fielding pediatric burn patients: the Texas legislature has pledged $150 million for rebuilding and improvement of UTMB.

Another Shriners' vote will determine the fate of five other hospitals, located in Springfield, Mass.; Shreveport, La.; Spokane, Wash.; Greenville, S.C.; and Erie, Pa. Early votes have all five hospitals staying open, but the Shriners' endowment has shrunk from $8.5 billion to $5.2 billion, according to CNN. They may have to start accepting insurance: currently all Shriners' hospital pay for all health care costs themselves.