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Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 pediatric non-profit hospitals across North America that provide specialty care at no charge to the patients and their families.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, the hospitals, known as "The World's Greatest Philanthropy," are owned and operated by the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners). There is no requirement for religion, race, or relationship to a Shriner. Patients must be under the age of 18, and treatable.



In 1920 the Imperial Session of the Shriners was held in Portland, Oregon. It was during that session that the membership decided unanimously to pass a resolution to establish the hospital system.

The Shriner's Burns hospital on the Campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas

The first hospital in this system opened in 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The hospitals' treatment areas now include all pediatric orthopedics, including scoliosis, limb discrepancies, clubfoot, hip dysplasia, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, as well as cerebral palsy, spina bifida (myelomeningocele), and other neurological conditions that affect ambulation and movement. Three of the hospitals provide spinal cord injury rehabilitation that is developmentally appropriate for children and adolescents, with adventure and adapted sports programs, activity-based rehabilitation, aquatherapy, animal-assisted therapy, and other innovative programs. Four of the hospitals (Boston, Galveston, Cincinnati, and Sacramento) provide world-famous care for children with burns, as well as treating a variety of skin conditions such as epidermolysis bullosa and toxic epidermal necrolysis. The Boston, Chicago, and Portland hospitals also provide treatment for children with craniofacial conditions, especially facial clefts. The hospital in Sacramento is the only hospital in the Shriners' system that focuses on all three areas of treatment (burns, orthopedics, and spinal cord injuries), as well as research. The Sacramento hospital also houses its own orthotics and prosthetics lab and development facilities. All care at Shriners Hospitals is provided by interdisciplinary teams who work closely together to integrate the expertise of all the appropriate healthcare disciplines in one building. Transportation to the hospitals is often provided free of charge by Shriner-drivers across the country. Children accepted for treatment become part of the Shriners Hospital system until their 18th or, sometimes, their 21st, birthday, eligible for both inpatient and outpatient treatment for all facets of their disability.

While the overwhelming emphasis of the hospitals is to provide medical care at no charge for children, the mission of the hospitals also includes research on the conditions treated and the education of medical professionals, including medical residents and fellows, nurses, physical, recreation, and occupational therapists, speech and language pathology, psychologists, social workers, and child life specialists.

In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates. The study showed that the Shriners Hospitals were ranked as the 9th "most popular charity/non-profit in America" of over 100 charities researched with 40% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing "Love" and "Like A Lot" for the Shriners Hospitals.[1]

In September 2008, the Shriner's Hospital in Galveston sustained significant damage from Hurricane Ike. Per the Shriner's website, "the hospital has been closed for renovation since that time, and care for children with acute burns has been provided at other Shriners Hospitals for Children".

Also, from the Shriner's website:

Due to the troubled economy, the value of the Shriners Hospitals for Children endowment fund – which is currently the largest source contributing to the organization's annual operating budget – has fallen by more than $2 billion over the past few months. Given the current financial constraints, and the capacity to treat patients with acute burns at three other hospitals in the health care system, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Boards of Directors and Trustees have voted to suspend renovation and reconstruction at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston, pending further evaluation and improvement in the organization's financial situation. Shriners Hospitals for Children — Galveston patients will continue to receive care at other hospitals in the health care system and other locations as appropriate.


On April 9, 2009, Ralph Semb, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Shriners Hospitals for Children, said "Unless we do something, the clock is ticking and within five to seven years we'll probably be out of the hospital business and not have any hospitals."[2]

Douglas Maxwell, the hospitals' CEO, said in July 2009 that some of the facilities may be downgraded to outpatient surgical centers, and will begin accepting insurance payments (for most care) for the first time in the hospitals' 87-year history. Maxwell said children suffering from burns, orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries and cleft palates will continue to be treated without charge to their families. Maxwell said, "We've not changed who we are. We will always take care of children the best we can."

The Shriners had considered closing facilities in Shreveport, Louisiana; Greenville, South Carolina; Erie, Pennsylvania; Spokane, Washington; Springfield, Massachusetts and Galveston, Texas, eliminating a total of 225 beds. However in July, the Shriners National Convention voted to repair and reopen the Galveston facility, which was closed after Hurricane Ike struck in September 2008.[3]

Despite an endowment that declined from $8 billion to $5 billion in less than a year because of the sputtering economy, Maxwell said he and other Shriners are confident the hospital system will be able to remain solvent in the long term.[4]


According to its Form 990, as of 2006, the Shriners Hospitals had an endowment of $10.2 billion. By April 2009, their endowment had gone down to $5 billion due to the recession and reductions in charitable donations.[5]

Shriners Hospitals


United States

Shriners Hospitals: Hospitals by Specialty:



  • Shriners Hospitals for Children - Mexico City (orthopedics)

See also

Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, the fraternity that founded Shriners Hospitals.


  1. ^ The Charities Americans Like Most And Least, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 13, 1996 And USA Today, December 20, 1994, "Charity begins with health", FINAL 01D
  2. ^ MSNBC coverage of Ralph Semb's comments
  3. ^ Galveston Daily News: Shriners vote to keep Isle burns hospital open
  4. ^ Roberts, Michelle (2009-07-09). "Shriners to consider downgrade of some hospitals". Austin American-Statesman via Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  5. ^ MSNBC report on the Shriner's finances
  6. ^

External links


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