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 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 Hospital 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.
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, with the burn hospital in Boston being completed in 1999. In 1998, the Joint Boards decided to build a new facility for the Mexico City Hospital, which had undergone 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. This flagship facility would provide orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care, and conduct research. It would be the first in the Shriners’ network to provide all these disciplines in a single facility. It would also serve as the Shrine’s primary burn center in the west, reducing the need for severely burned children to travel across the country to receive care at one of the other burn Shriners Hospitals. 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. Though the orthopaedic problems of these patients are usually the most overt feature of this congenital spinal defect, the accompanying neurological and urological problems are more life threatening, and they often take precedence over orthopaedic treatment.
Shriners Hospitals expanded their prosthetic services during the 1980s with regional prosthetic research programs at two hospitals. In 1987, the Los Angeles Hospital adopted the West Coast Child Amputee Prosthetics Project (CAPP), which provides prostheses and rehabilitation for limb-deficient children and also conducts research into prosthetic design and fabrication. In 1988, the Springfield Hospital received approval to create a Regional Center for Prosthetic Research to explore the development of new, more advanced prosthetic devices for children. These two programs, in conjunction with the prosthetic and orthotic labs throughout the Shriners Hospital system, will ensure 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 official philanthropy to “Shriners Hospitals for Children.” In a move that permanently eliminates 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.
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.