Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shrine Hospitals:We need to rebuild to be relevant for the future

Shrine Hospitals: We need to rebuild to be relevant for the future.
I’ve heard rumors for some time now that the Shrine Leadership will have to make some tough decisions about our Shrine Hospital’s future. I’m sure that in these tough economic times, our Shrine leadership has spent many sleepless nights trying to create a vision to make our Shrine Hospitals relevant into the next millennium. According to the newspaper article in the April 10th edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, that time is very near.
Here’s something you may not know …The first Shrine hospital opened in 1922 in Shreveport Louisiana to the response of the community needs to treat Polio. As the years flew by, they now operate 22 hospitals in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The hospitals specialize in Orthopedic, Burns, and Spinal Cord injury rehabilitation, Cleft Lip and Palate Care and Medical Research.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Hospitals Ralph Semb told the Atlantic Journal Constitution that “Unless we do something, the clock is ticking and within 5 to 7 years we’ll be out of the hospital business…”
The Shrine’s endowment to finance the hospitals has fallen from $8 Billon to $5 Billon dollars because of the lack of performance in the stock market and from declining donations. The rising medical costs have also made a dramatic impact. In order to fully fund the hospital’s daily operations they are withdrawing a million dollars a day from the endowment.
The tough decision will be voted upon at the Imperial Shrine in San Antonio Texas on July 6 to 8th to close access to 225 hospital beds. Shrine hospitals may be closed in: Shreveport, LA, Erie, PA, Spokane WA, Springfield and Greenville MA. These hospitals were chosen based on their lack of usage. The fate of the hospital in Galveston Texas that was severely damaged in Hurricane Ike will be decided on as well.
Recently, it has become popular to fundraise on social networking websites. Our own Brother Tom Smith of Minneapolis #19 and a proud member of Zuhrah Shrine is using his Facebook account to raise funds for the Shrine Hospitals. Great cutting edge idea Tom!
I have met many people whose lives were greatly enriched and their quality of life was dramatically improved -- all because they were treated at a Shrine Hospitals. The treatment they received at no cost made a positive life changing experience not only to their life but to also to their families and to the contributions they made to society .
Many times I have been moved to tears to hear their stories…like this week one of my nationally respected law enforcement associates whose Son was a long time resident in the Atlanta Shrine Hospital. I was able to hear again how we as Shriners are making a positive impact.
For the next few months we need to support our Shrine Leadership -- to spend the time to make a well informed decision in San Antonio at the Imperial Session so that our wonderful Shrine Hospitals can be relevant into the next century.
My Fez is off to salute the work of our Shrine Hospitals!

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