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Shrine History Page 6

                                                                                          Orthopaedic Research

   From 1950 to 1960, the Shrine’s funds for helping children increased rapidly. At the same time, the waiting lists of new patients for admission to Shriners Hospitals began to decline, due to the polio vaccine and new antibiotics.

   Thus, Shriners found themselves able to provide additional services, and Shrine leaders began to look for other ways they could help the children of North America.

   One result was the collating of the medical records of patients of Shriners Hospitals. By placing the records of each patient and treatment on computer and microfilm, valuable information was made available to all Shriners surgeons and the medical world as a whole. This process, begun in 1959, also made it easier to initiate clinical research in Shriners orthopaedic hospitals.

   Shriners Hospitals had always engaged in clinical research, and in the early ’60s, the Shrine aggressively entered the structured research field and began earmarking funds for research projects. By 1967, Shriners were spending $20,000 on orthopaedic research.

   Today, the annual research budget totals approximately $25 million. Shrine researchers are working on a wide variety of projects, including studies of bone and joint diseases, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; increasing basic knowledge of the structure and function of connective tissue; and refining functional electrical stimulation, which is enabling children with spinal cord injuries to have limited use of their arms and legs.

                                                                                      Entering the Burn Care Field

   This expansion of orthopaedic work was not enough for the Shriners. They had enough funds to further expand their philanthropy. The only question was: What unmet need could they fill?

   A special committee was established to explore areas of need and found that burn treatment was a field of service that was being bypassed. In the early ’60s, the only burn treatment center in the United States was part of a military complex. The committee was ready with a resolution for the 1962 Imperial Session in Toronto. The resolution, dated July 4, 1962, was adopted by unanimous vote.

   On November 1, 1963, the Shrine opened a seven-bed wing in the John Sealy Hospital on the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston as an interim center for the care of severely burned children. On February 1, 1964, the Shrine opened a seven-bed ward in the Cincinnati General Hospital on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. A third interim operation, a five-bed ward, was opened March 13, 1964, in the Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) under the direction of Harvard Medical School.

   While children were being treated in these wards, separate buildings were constructed near each interim location. These buildings, three 30-bed pediatric burn hospitals, were designed to meet the special needs of burned children. At each, the staffs remain affiliated with their neighboring universities so that they may better carry out their three-fold program of treatment, research and teaching.

   The hospital in Galveston opened March 20, 1966; the hospital in Cincinnati opened February 19, 1968; and the Boston hospital opened November 2, 1968. New facilities would be constructed for all three burn hospitals in the 1990s. The new Cincinnati and Galveston hospitals were completed in 1992, and the new Boston hospital was completed in 1999.

   A new burn treatment center opened in 1997, in the new Shriners Hospital in Sacramento, Calif. This newest Shriners Hospital provides orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care, and serves as the Shrine’s primary burn treatment center in the western United States. The Sacramento Hospital also conducts research into all three disciplines.

   Since the Shriners opened their burn hospitals in the 1960s, a burned child’s chance of survival has more than doubled. They have saved children burned over 90 percent of their bodies. The techniques they have pioneered to prevent the crippling effects of severe burns have made a normal life possible for thousands of burn victims.

   Most importantly, perhaps, the establishment of the burn Shriners Hospitals has alerted the medical world to this special need, which has, in turn, led to the establishment of non-Shrine burn centers throughout North America.

   At Shriners Hospitals the work goes on, continually searching for new ways to heal severe burns and reduce or, as much as possible, eliminate the crippling and scarring effects of those burns. Because of the special nature of the burn hospitals, they will surely always be on the frontier of burn care.

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