Moving With The Times
1871 - 1985
In 1871 a small group of prominent and affluent Masons met every day for lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage Restaurant in New York City. The two we remember most were Dr. Walter M. Fleming, a prominent physician, and William J. “Billy” Florence, an outstanding actor. Dr. Fleming saw the need for an organization dedicated to fun, fellowship, and pageantry within the framework of Masonry. Billy Florence said, “Let the pageantry be of an Arabic fashion with Potentates and Sheriffs clad in Oriental splendor”. In this atmosphere, MECCA Temple was organized on September 26, 1872.
This new concept spread rapidly. By 1900, a period of 28 years, there were 82 Temples. In the next decade, by 1910, 38 more Temples were added including ones in Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii. Today there are 188 Temples under charter and 2 more under dispensation. I know all will agree the Shrine is a great organization. Maybe even the greatest. It has served a useful purpose. It has brought fun, fellowship, and recreation to hundreds of thousands of its members. It has provided entertainment and showmanship to millions on the sidelines. It has given comfort and sunshine to the young and the old in hospitals and nursing homes. It has made available its buildings and facilities to worthwhile organizations and endeavors. It has extended the use of its units to civic and patriotic organizations, and it has given to charity.
In 1920 W. Freeland Kendrich, long time Mayor of Philadelphia, Past Potentate of LULU Temple is Imperial Potentate. He thinks now is the time for the Shrine to engage in some charitable endeavor. As he goes about the country he is selling this idea. At the Imperial Session that year in Portland, Oregon, he proposed to the Representatives that the Shrine establish a hospital to treat Crippled Children, whose parents or guardians were unable to provide such care. This hospital was to take all children, regardless of race or creed and was to be supported by an assessment on the entire Shrine membership. After considerable understandable argument, the proposal was unanimously approved.
At the Imperial Session the following year the Representatives approved a recommendation that a chain of such hospitals be established. The first hospital was opened in Shreveport, Louisiana on September 16, 1922. Today, there are 19 Orthopedic Hospitals in operation, which includes 1 each in Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii representing an initial capital investment of over $40 million dollars. In 1985 a brand new hospital was dedicated in Tampa. This facility cost $18,000,000. 18 Hospitals for $40,000, 000 years ago. 1 Hospital $18,000,000 today. Total capacity of the Orthopedic Hospitals is in excess of 1000 beds. Running at 70% capacity means on an average day we are treating some 700 patients. We have the very best doctors and we provide the finest care. Tens of thousands of children have been totally or partially cured and returned to their homes and communities to become acceptable, useful, and productive members of society.
During the 1960’s, a survey showed there was only one small facility to treat children who were burned. At the Imperial Session in Toronto in 1962, the Representatives approved a resolution that the Shrine provides $10,000,000 to establish 1, 2, or 3 hospitals to treat children who were burned. These Burn Centers are located in Boston, Cincinnati and Galveston, and all are near large well-established medical centers. These Burn Centers serve a 3-fold purpose, they treat children, do research, and train personnel that can move to other areas.
The Shrine has led the way in the treatment of burned children. Statistics show survival with 50% burns has doubled. Even children with 90% burns have been saved. Something unheard of years ago. To get our story to more and more people, a National toll free number was setup at our Headquarters in Tampa. Public service announcement on radio and television, window posters and even billboards advise people to inquire about our services. Recently, posters and bumper stickers featuring the popular cartoon character, Fred Flintstone, publicizes our toll free number. In the 1980’s, the Doctors at the Philadelphia Unit saw a great need for a facility to treat children who have suffered spinal cord injury. The Local Board, in full agreement, recommended to the National Boards that such a facility be added to the Philadelphia Unit. What a challenge for us when the National Boards approved the recommendation. A new wing was added to the hospital and in October of 1980 the Spinal Cord injury Center was opened with 8 beds. Census has run about 100% including paraplegic and quadriplegics. We have done much to train these children to tend to their personal cares and to provide some means of recreation. We also bring in the family and instruct them how to cope with a child who has been permanently injured. When you see a child who is paralyzed from the waist down throw a bowling ball from a wheelchair, or when you see a child who is paralyzed from the neck down operate a mechanized wheelchair with its mouth and the roll of its head, it brings tears to your eyes. Yet the treatment provided by the Shrine lessens the burden to some degree.
Seeing the great need to extend this type of treatment to other parts of the country, the National Boards have since opened in SCI Programs at the Chicago and San Francisco Units. Again the Shrine takes the lead. It inaugurates the Stop Burns Injury Program, SBI. Most of us don’t realize the extent of burns. Burns are the #1 cause of accidental deaths in the home. Every year in the United States some 2,000,000 burns occur and unfortunately most are preventable. Our Headquarters in Tampa states this program has reached some 50,000,000 people thru radio, TV, newspapers and pamphlets. We are making the public aware of the simple steps that can be taken to eliminate burn hazards. It is said with emphasis “The best burn care is prevention.” Shriners Hospitals commitment to research continues to grow as the National Boards awarded 79 research projects for 1985. Fourteen of the 22 Hospitals will be doing some type of research. “Today’s Research is tomorrow’s Patient Care” and the Shriners Hospitals are doing something about it. Like all apparatus, Shrine Hospital Buildings become outdated and inadequate. They have difficulty in complying with local codes and ordinances. Here again, the Shrine is meeting this challenge head on. Several hospitals have been replaced, others will be. Several hospitals have been completely renovated, others will be. Lexington is getting a new facility on its original site. Greenville is getting a new hospital on a new site. Erie has been completely renovated with 2 wings added. Philadelphia Unit was informed at the Imperial Session in Atlanta, it will get a new hospital at such time as the National Boards determine.
The following facts and figures will show the scope and magnitude of what the Shrine has and is doing for others. Since 1922, we have treated 300,000 children in our Orthopedic and Burns hospitals. This adds up to 18,000,000 patient days. Total operational cost to date is $866,000,000. Total construction cost to date is $186,000,000. This totals $1,052,000,000. Operating Budget for Philadelphia Unit for 1985 was $6,755,000. Operating Budget for all hospitals for 1985 is $122,000,000. Of this 8.8 million is for research. Construction and Equipment Budget for 1985 is $28,000,000. This is a total for 1985 of $150,000,000.
A quick calculation shows that by the end of this decade, 1990, the Shrine will have spent nearly 2 billion dollars for health care services. Shriners Hospitals for Crippled and Burned Children, the largest, greatest and most far reaching endeavor of its kind in the world.
It can be summed up this way:
Help for the unfortunate
A service to society. No cost to the taxpayer, and satisfaction for those who make it possible.
WE HAVE MOVED WITH THE TIMES, BUT WE DARE NOT REST ON OUR LAURELS.