Galveston Campus

The History of the Children's Hospital

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston reached another milestone in its distinguished history at the forefront of pediatric care when in 2012, it opened the doors of a new Children’s Hospital on the 10th floor of John Sealy Hospital.

A century ago, pediatrics was a tiny field of medical practice. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were only five or six doctors in the United States who devoted their practice exclusively to pediatrics.UTMB has been a leader in children’s medical care since those earliest days when pediatrics began to emerge as a separate field of practice.  In 1915, UTMB was commissioned by the state to build the first children’s hospital in Texas.  In 1924, UTMB established the first department of pediatrics in the state — one of the first departments of pediatrics in the nation.

After UTMB’s Children’s Hospital closed in the wake of Hurricane Ike, UTMB’s pediatric hospital services were relocated to floors in the John Sealy Hospital that were designed for adults.

The opening of the new UTMB Health Children’s Hospital marks the end of years of detailed planning and designing by members of UTMB’s pediatric faculty and staff.

“The new UTMB Health Children’s Hospital offers unsurpassed care for children in an intimate, family-centered environment designed for both healing and fun,” said Donna Sollenberger, executive vice president and CEO, UTMB Health System. “We are so proud to open this beautiful new facility that brings a whole new level of pediatric inpatient service to our community.”

The fully redesigned hospital within a hospital reflects an attention to all the details that matter to children, offering the whimsy and serenity of an ocean/island color and design scheme along with many special spaces for toddlers, older children and teenagers to play, relax, unwind and spend time with family members. Large patient rooms have couches that convert to beds, large flat-screen TVs with DVD players, in-room refrigerators and large comfortable chairs that fully recline.

Common spaces are punctuated with shiny, whimsical art commissioned by Austin artist Allison Gregory. Along the ceiling there are tiles painted as sea creatures by former pediatric patients. Transoms and doors throughout the space are filled with sea-blue bubbled glass. There is a state of-the-art arcade, an air-hockey table, Wii game units, X Boxes, Play Stations and many other toys, puzzles, games, books and DVDs for all ages in the common rooms.

Special details like sea-creature tiles that accent all the patient bathrooms, translucent aquamarine countertops throughout the unit and a serene meditation area for families illustrate the attention that the leadership team and designers gave to every small nuance of the unit’s space.

The new UTMB Health Children’s Hospital is served by a child life program. Child life specialists promote effective coping through play and provide emotional support for families and children during a hospital stay. The child life specialist is an integral part of the team during any procedure that might be frightening or painful, helping children to relax and remember to have fun even when they are sick. The entire Children’s Hospital was designed with this combination of healing and fun in mind.

Patients and families can expect an intimate, family-centered, personal experience at UTMB Health. UTMB has a very personal program, a very consistent team and not a lot of shuffling between different providers for families who are under the stress of a child’s hospitalization.  UTMB's pediatric hospitalist service is dedicated to evidence-based medicine, assuring the most up-to-date care. 

UTMB's specialty care is unsurpassed, with  pediatric specialty and subspecialty physicians with many years of special training and the expertise that accompanies this.  Its professional staff are all specially trained to care for children. Together this reflects the deep commitment of UTMB to providing the best possible care for children and creates a multidisciplinary team of experts, focused on one common goal: improving the health of each child in our care.

For more information, call (409) 772-1594.

Children’s Hospital Highlights

UTMB has trained 737 pediatricians since its program was first accredited in 1938

UTMB has the oldest pediatric residency program in Texas
New special common areas for children are equipped with games, books, arcades, movies, video games, air hockey and more. A special room for parents and family members offers a peaceful reprieve.

  • Family Fun Zone — play area for school aged children and their families during their hospital stay
  • Toddler Play Room — for young children with child life specialists and family
  • Teen Rec Area — for adolescents only
  • Debbie Reinhartsen Sheffield Family Resource Center — an oasis in the hospital designed to allow families to access information about their child's illness or treatment in a peaceful, healing place close to their child. 

Pediatric Staff

  • 38 nurses
  • 5 respiratory therapists
  • 4 physical therapists
  • 3 dietary services staff
  • 7 pharmacy team members, including pediatric pharmacist
  • 6 transportation staff
  • 3 radiology staff supporting 2 full time pediatric radiologists
  • 4 speech and occupational therapy providers
  • 60 clinical faculty
  • 40 mid-level providers supporting the care of children in Intensive Care, inpatient and outpatient settings
  • 36 pediatric residents, plus fellows in neonatology and allergy/immunology

More about the Department of Pediatrics

UTMB Department of Pediatrics

Pediatric Specialty Care

Pediatric Urgent Care 

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