Did you know that Shriners Hospitals treat children under the age of 18 throughout 22 hospitals across North America free of charge?! Shriners Hospitals specialize in treating children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft palate, among others.
The first hospital opened in 1922 and according to their website, the mission of Shriners Hospitals is to:
"Provide the highest quality care to children with neuromusculoskeletal conditions, burn injuries and other special healthcare needs within a compassionate, family-centered and collaborative care environment. Provide for the education of physicians and other healthcare professionals. Conduct research to discover new knowledge that improves the quality of care and quality of life of children and families."
As a Shriners kid, I have my mobility, my health, and my future to thank largely in part to the Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis, MN. From the age of 3, Shriners treated me for fractures, provided physical therapy, mobility equipment, performed rodding and more surgeries than I care to remember, but it is the unique care and compassion of the Shriners Hospital that creates an important place in the hearts of patients and their families.
To this day, I can remember the faces of the nurses and the doctors who treated me and who more importantly made me feel like the Shriners was a home away from home during long hospital stays. The nurses brought all the kids to play together frequently in the recreation room to help pass the time after healing from surgeries. The opportunity to meet other kids going through similar situations was something unique to the Shriners. I still have friends I met during my time as a Shriners' kid.
The staff at the Shriners always had a smile for all the kids and the patience of saints. Nurses even went so far as to wear scrubs with cartoon characters while doctors wore polka dotted bow ties to lighten the mood. It wasn't only the children being treated that the Shriners would look out for, but their entire family. My brother and sisters stayed entertained with books and toys and the fish tank and snoopy house in the waiting rooms.
Once children begin to approach the age of 18, the Shriners also offer transition workshops to help their patients transition into adult healthcare and find providers in their areas to continue treating their needs.
Above all, the Shriners treats their patients as people. They care not only about treating their patients' medical issues but doing everything they can to ensure a successful future and healthy adult life for all the kids who walk through their doors.
For more information about the Shriners, visit their website: www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.
Were YOU a Shriners kid or know someone who was? Share your Shriners experience in the comments!