140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shriners holds open house

Story by:Tania Dall / KXLY4 Reporter

SPOKANE -- Spokane's Shriners Hospital for Children held its second annual open house for families, kids and patients on Saturday.

Visitors got a chance to take part in face painting, parachuting, bubble blowing, and health awareness activities. But the hospital isn't sure if it'll be around to have an open house like this next year.

Kids get free medical treatment at Shriners Hospitals, but tough economic times mean Spokane's hospital and five others across The country could be forced to close. It's a scenario patients and families don't want to see happen.

Jessica Miller loves to ride horses, but her family knew something was wrong when she couldn't sit up straight in her saddle.

"My daughter was diagnosed with Scoliosis about nine months ago and it was rapidly progressing, getting worse and worse," said Jessica's Dad, Scott Miller.

The Miller's traveled from northeast Oregon to Spokane so Jessica could get the surgery she needs to correct her spine. She had the operation at Shriners on Tuesday.

"The nurses have been really nice, really caring," said Jessica.

Shriners Hospital averages 8,500 patients a year, 650 surgeries and is funded entirely by an endowment trust which has tanked because of the financial crisis.

"As with every organization that trust has taken a hit in value, In our case it's about a $3 billion loss," said Sally Mildren with Shriners Hospital For Children.

While patients like Jessica recover, the hospital hosted an open house for the community on Saturday. Amy Warner, a former patient, brought her two kids to the event.

"I was a patient for probably about 18 years, spent approximately five years of my life in here having braces, surgeries, casts and therapy," said Warner.

Doctors said Warner wouldn't do a lot of things because of Cerebral Palsy.

"I wouldn't walk, certainly I wouldn't have children, lots of things they said I wouldn't do and I've done all of it," she said.

Now Warner is a 32-year-old mother of two, she says it wouldn't have been possible without Shriners Hospital.

"I came in not being able to walk, braces, casts and came in here today in heels," she said. "So it's huge they need to keep it open."

From former patients to current patients, all with a simple request for the community, don't let the doors of Shriners close for good.

"I just want Shriners to stay open and up and running, It's a great hospital for kids," said Jessica.

A vote is scheduled for July to decide the fate of Spokane's Shriners Hospital.
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