UTMB Shedding 51 Positions, Adjusting To State And Federal Cuts

The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston is laying off 51 people but says the long-term plan is to grow the workforce.

The cuts will come in two areas – basic scientific research and patient care.

Dr. Ben Raimer is a senior vice president for health policy and legislative affairs.

He says 23 faculty members will be let go because their scientific research projects are no longer supported by the National Institutes of Health.

“Many institutions are not able to make up that salary difference out of their own budget, because their state funds have been reduced, and because other funds are not available. The only choice they have is to eliminate those positions. That’s pretty much where we find ourself. I mean we have to prioritize certain programs and say ‘We’ll spend our money there’ and research is certainly one of the areas that if there’s not funding for, we can’t self-fund that internally.”

Raimer did not have details on which NIH grants were cut, but says medical schools across the country are dealing with this problem.

The NIH budget has been relatively flat since 2003, and competition for the grants is fierce.

The remaining UTMB layoffs involve a mix of administrative workers and a few clinicians.

Raier attributed those to state budget cuts from the last legislative session.

However, he says overall the UTMB system has grown since Hurricane Ike and will continue to grow when a new hospital tower opens in 2015.

“We are still hiring people in multiple areas. We just expanded our nursing curriculum for instance by 10 percent. We are doubling the size of our school of Allied Health Sciences. So we’re hiring faculty right and left. We’re not in a mood of cut, cut, cut at all.”

Raimer pointed out that the 51 jobs that were cut represent a tiny fraction of the system’s more than 11,000 employees statewide.

From the KUHF Health and Science Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

 

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Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...