A large crowd turned out for the rededication of the Truman G. Blocker Burn Unit at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston on Wednesday. The unit, located on the second floor of John Sealy Hospital, now with six beds available, is treating burn patients ages 13 and older. Listen
Dr. David Herndon, director of the burn center, welcomed the visitors and paid tribute to Dr. Blocker, a pioneer in burn treatment at UTMB beginning with the Texas City Disaster 65 years ago.
“In 1947 Dr. Blocker started the first burn unit in the United States, on Galveston Island,” Herndon said. “He made it a center of excellence to treat burn patients from throughout the world.”
Herndon and UTMB President Dr. David Callender thanked the sponsors who supported the project: The Sealy & Smith Foundation, BP, Apache Corporation, Amon G. Carter Foundation, Conoco Phillips, Marathon Oil Company, Shell Oil Company and Valero Energy Corporation.
“As David said, this place is world recognized for what it’s done for burn patients,” Callender said. “Not only those who have been treated here but those who have benefited from the expertise that’s been developed over the years at the Blocker Burn Unit.”
John Kelso, president of the Sealy & Smith Foundation, said the foundation was pleased to be able to help with the funding for the renovation.
“We feel that this new unit is crucial to providing a specific health care need with all of the surrounding industry in this area,” Kelso said.
State Representative Craig Eiland recognized League City Mayor Tim Paulissen, who attended the ceremony, noting the regional service that UTMB provides.
“The burn unit and UTMB are not just Galveston,” Eiland said. “We go way beyond that. I think the 2005 explosion at BP made everybody realize, not just the plants at Texas City but the plants in Beaumont and in Brazoria County, how important it is to have people like Dr. Herndon and his team and a unit like this right here, right now.”
Representative Larry Taylor agreed with Eiland.
“It’s not often you can stand in one of the places that is the greatest in the world,” Taylor said, recalling the recent and past history of UTMB, including the recovery from Hurricane Ike and the service it provided in the Texas City Disaster. “So we can continue to move forward for this state, for this area, for this industrial complex we are around, but also for the world. The research that goes on here is so important.”
Galveston Mayor Lewis Rosen presented a plaque from the city council.
“This is the fun part of my job, representing all the citizens of Galveston,” Rosen said. “This is a day of appreciation.”
The Galveston Chamber of Commerce concluded the ceremony with an official ribbon cutting.