They help the helpless but if the recession keeps on track Shriners may have to pull out of the hospital business within five years.
As the charity endowments shrink, the cost for care increases and donations leak instead of pour in the Shriners, based out of Florida may have to close some or all of their 22 hospitals across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The fund for the endowment has fallen to just $5 billion from the $8 billion it was at just a year ago. The slump has been going on longer than the recession though, since 2001 it has been declining.
This summer the group will gather and decide on the closing of the hospitals.
USA Today reports:
“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,” Ralph Semb, chief executive officer of Shriners Hospitals for Children, told The Associated Press.
The Shriners have been helping children since the doors first opened at the facility in Shreveport, Louisiana. At that time the need was polio care. By the 1960’s there were hospitals across the nation. Care expanded to include spinal cord injury rehabilitation, cleft lip and palate care and medical research.
More than a million children owe their lives to the hospitals.
In March the Shriners Board of Directors voted to close four of the group’s eight research centers and lay off about 40 people at its administrative office. On July 6-8 in San Antonio, Texas the annual meeting will convene. This year will be difficult as about 1,200 Shriners will vote on if its time to close their hospitals in Shreveport, La.; Erie, Pa.; Spokane, Wash.; Springfield, Mass., and Greenville.
Patients would still be treated at other Shriners hospitals that specialize in the illness or injury.
USA Today reports:
“The outlook is not good, but we know that we can right it,” Semb said. “And we can within a five-year period of time get our expenses down far enough to equal the income we have coming in and hopefully start building on that endowment fund.”