SPOKANE, WA – Ahead of its national meeting next week, today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) urged national Shriners executives to spare closure of Spokane’s Shriners Hospital for Children. Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane is one of six Shriners operated hospitals that have been selected to be closed down.  Cantwell, McMorris Rodgers and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent letters to the CEO of Shriners International emphasizing that closing this hospital would have a major impact on families in the Spokane region’s ability to receive needed care for their children. 


“In an era of skyrocketing healthcare costs, closing this hospital would have a major impact on families throughout the Spokane region,” said Cantwell. “Through no fault of the Shriners, the Wall Street meltdown has devastated their endowment, forcing the organization to consider closing some hospitals.  Many of these families would have no where else to go for high quality care for their children. I urge Shriners executives to look at the impact the closure of this hospital would have on families in our area, and urge them to keep the facility open.”


For the last 85 years, Shriners has been an integral part of our community providing unique orthopedic services while maintaining a safety net for our children,” McMorris Rodgers said.  “The Shriners facility has provided state-of-the-art treatment and care to thousands of patients each year.  Without Shriners, these patients may not have been able to receive the treatment they needed.  We must do everything we can to make sure Shriners Hospital stays here in our region.”


Spokane’s Shriners Hospital for Children provides critical access to health care for children throughout Eastern Washington and all over the surrounding Washington, Montana, Northern Idaho, Alaska and Canada.  In these tough economic times children can receive life-saving care at no cost, children who might otherwise be unable to afford it.  The hospital was built in 1930 and sees an average of approximately 9,000 children a year, free of charge.  The hospital specializes in orthopeadics, burns, spinal cord injury and cleft lip and palate procedures. 


“Shriners has been an important part of the Spokane region’s health system since 1924,” said Rich Hadley, President and CEO, Greater Spokane Incorporated. “The hospital employs about 170 people, and educates 30 medical and nursing students each year through pediatric internships. If Shriners closes, Spokane will lose a vital teaching center and an institution that’s been a part of the community since 1924.”


"For 13 years, my daughter Nicole, who has cerebral palsy, has received care at Shriners, including multiple procedures and a surgery,” said Norma Smith, mother of Nicole Smith, a Shriners patient.  “If it weren't for Shriners, there is no way Nicole could have received quality care because we couldn't have afforded the astronomical co-pays and deductibles.  Now, thanks to Shriners, Nicole graduated high school and is enrolled in college courses.  Children from across our state need access to the kind of care Nicole received and that Shriners provides."


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