Galveston Shriners Hospital To Close

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Hurricane Ike-damaged Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston is ceasing operations.

Employees were told during a staff meeting Thursday the hospital will close.

The Houston Chronicle reports hospital administrator John Swartwout Jr. said the Shriners board decided Jan. 16 to suspend hospital operations as an emergency measure to shore up its finances.

The Sept. 13 storm caused significant damage to the hospital known for its burn unit.

The hospital has 320 employees who will be paid until March 29 and they'll also receive career transition assistance.

Employees were instructed Thursday to go home and not return until a 1 p.m. meeting on Monday with Shriners International President and CEO Ralph Semb.

Reconstruction at the Galveston hospital was halted this week because of the cost.

Semb told The Associated Press this week that the hospital had significant damage. He says the group can't afford to repair it.

Semb also says the organization has lost more than $3 billion from its endowment fund as a result of the economic downturn.