Shriner History Page 7
Continuing the Commitment
During the 1980s, Shriners Hospitals initiated a number of new programs in their efforts to continue providing high-quality pediatric orthopaedic and burn care.
One of the most significant was the 1980 opening of the spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation unit at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia — the first spinal cord injury unit in the United States designed specifically for children and teenagers who suffer from these injuries. By 1984, two additional spinal cord injury units were operating in the Shriners Hospitals in Chicago and San Francisco. In 1997, the San Francisco Hospital, including the SCI unit, was relocated to the newest Shriners Hospitals in Sacramento, Calif.
At the Shrine’s SCI units, children receive long-term rehabilitative care and physical and occupational therapy to help them relearn the basic skills of everyday life. Counseling sessions help patients learn to cope with the emotional aspects of their injury and help them lead fulfilling lives by emphasizing the abilities they still have. Patients may enter an SCI unit apprehensive about the future, but after months of encouragement and support, they often leave with a sense of hope and optimism.
An ongoing study at the Philadelphia Hospital is giving children with cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries a sense of hope as well. Researchers have found that when using functional electrical stimulation (FES), the posture of a child’s foot and ankle is improved. In turn, it has a positive affect on their gait, making walking an achievable goal.
Another important undertaking that was begun during the 1980s was an aggressive rebuilding and renovation program, involving the construction of new facilities and extensive renovations throughout the Shriners Hospital system. In 1981, the Representatives at the 107th Imperial Council Session approved a major expansion and reconstruction program, which included the construction of a new orthopaedic hospital in Tampa, Fla. The opening of the Tampa Hospital in 1985 — the first new hospital added to the Shrine system since the 1960s — brought the Shriners Hospital system back to 22 hospitals.
Since 1981, 21 Shriners Hospitals have either been rebuilt or totally renovated. In 1998, the Joint Boards decided to build a new facility for the Mexico City Hospital, which underwent extensive renovations in 1989.
In 1989, another significant decision was made when the Shriners voted to construct a new hospital in the Northern California region, to replace the existing San Francisco Hospital. In 1990, Sacramento was chosen as the site for the new hospital. Construction began in 1993, and in 1997, the new Northern California Hospital in Sacramento opened its doors.
Also during the 1980s, because of the high number of patients with myelodysplasia (spina bifida), many of the Shriners Hospitals developed special programs to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care to these patients.
Previously, Shriners Hospitals had provided the orthopaedic care these children needed, but in 1986, the Joint Boards of Directors and Trustees approved a policy permitting the hospitals to address the multiple needs of these children by providing their medical, neurosurgical and urological requirements, as well as their psychosocial, nutritional and recreational needs.
During the 1980s, the Los Angeles and Springfield Shriners Hospitals expanded their prosthetic services with regional prosthetic research programs. Both programs conduct research into ways to improve or create new prosthetics and help rehabilitate limb-deficient children. These two programs, in addition to various other research programs throughout the 22 hospital system, join the prosthetic and orthotic labs throughout the Shriners Hospital system in ensuring that Shriners Hospitals remain leaders in the field of children’s orthotics and prosthetics.
The burn hospitals also took steps to ensure that burn patients continue to receive the most advanced burn treatment available. The Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati initiated a burns air ambulance, the first air ambulance in the country devoted exclusively to transporting burn victims. The burn hospitals also developed a re-entry program, to assist burn patients in their return home after being discharged from the hospital. During 1992, new replacement facilities for the Cincinnati and Galveston burn hospitals were dedicated, and groundbreaking ceremonies were held for a new facility for the Boston Hospital. All the burn hospitals are continuing to conduct research in their ongoing efforts to improve care for burned patients.
In 1996, Shrine Representatives took another significant step when they voted to officially change the name of their philanthropy to “Shriners Hospitals for Children.” In a move that permanently eliminated the word “crippled” from the organization’s corporate name, the Representatives made the change in an effort to have the name better reflect the mission of Shriners Hospitals and the expansions of services that have been added over the years, including the opening of the burn hospitals and the addition of programs of comprehensive care for children with myelodysplasia. The new name is intended to reflect the philosophy of Shriners Hospitals, which provide medical care for children totally free of charge, based only on what’s best for the child. The new name, likewise, does not label children in any way, but simply recognizes them for what they are: children. Though they have a new name, Shriners Hospitals continue to focus on their mission of helping children lead better lives.
One way Shriners Hospitals is helping to improve lives is with the help of Outcomes research. This type of research looks for opportunities to improve Shriners Hospital practices, both clinical and operational, to help bring better care and quality of life to patients. The Outcomes studies utilize more than one Shriners Hospital, and the projects, studies and performance improvement initiatives directly impact changes in operations and patient care practices at all 22 Shriners Hospitals.
To ensure Shriners Hospitals is constantly on the cutting edge of research, Shriners enlists the help of advisory boards, which are made up of eminent surgeons, clinicians and scientists who review grants and offer expertise on project funding. The Medical Advisory Board, Research Advisory Board and Clinical Outcomes Studies Advisory Board also provide review, guidance and subjective assessment to many areas of Shriners Hospitals.
As they look to the future, the Joint Boards are committed to maintaining Shriners Hospitals for Children as leaders in children’s pediatric orthopaedic and burn care.