"Semb (Ralph Semb, Chairman of the Shriners Board of Trustees and CEO) said Shriners hospitals have already been asked to cut $200 million from operations this year because of rising health care costs and the endowment's plunge to $5 billion from more than $8 billion…Repairs and renovation to the Galveston hospital following last September's Hurricane Ike were halted in January because of budget constraints."
In addition to insurance coverage, the Shriners have applied for FEMA disaster assistance for the IKE damaged hospital but those funds could be in jeopardy if the Galveston facility is closed.
FEMA assistance is granted to rebuild to pre-existing conditions and is designed to help nonprofits and non government agencies recover by helping pay for disaster related expenses such as debris removal and facility repair. For example, after insurance covers policy obligations, UTMB will most likely be eligible for tens of millions of FEMA dollars because it is planning to rebuild and reopen. This type of assistance is also available to the Shriners, however, FEMA will not pay to rebuild a hospital that is going to be abandoned.
At this point, one might ask questions like
"If things are so bad, why didn't the Shriners try and raise money during the recent national broadcasts of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children PGA Golf Tournament and the East West football game as well as use the opportunities presented as NASCAR driver David Ragan announced the Shriners as his chosen charity?
"And just how much did those events raise?"
And just In case you don't know who the Shriners are, they're the red Fez wearing grandpa-types who have the secret handshakes and drive their goofy little cars around in parades. They are members of a 350,000 member fraternity of those who must first be Master Masons. They meet in nearly 200 North American temples to support and operate their network of 22 hospitals that provides free medical care to burned and crippled children,
It's been discovered that the Shriners also have a secret nonprofit sub-group, the Royal Order of Jesters, currently being investigated for links to prostitution, sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors and international travel for those purposes after three Jesters were caught in a FBI human trafficking sting. All three, including a former NY state Supreme Court judge, his law clerk & former Erie County prosecutor and a retired police captain, have pleaded guilty to violating or conspiring to violate the Mann Act. You can read all about this and other ethical challenges in this list of findings.
Back to the headlines.
This ABC headline reads "UTMB files lawsuit against Shriner's Children's Hospital."
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Board of Regents for the University of Texas System filed for a restraining order and injunction against the Shriners on March 30 to stop them from closing their Galveston hospital because they allege that the Shriners failed to provide proper notice so the joint research projects could relocated.
This concept of research is very important because it is the first step for processes that commercialize new burn treatments in an industry worth billions. For example, the Shriners helped develop a product that is marketed as Integra Dermal Regenerative System. Integra did pretty well in 2008. According to this press release, "Total revenues in the full year of 2008 were $654.6 million, reflecting an increase of $104.1 million, or 19%, over the full year of 2007… Integra generated $27.1 million in operating cash flows in the fourth quarter and $72.6 million for the full year 2008, a 54% increase over full year 2007."
So, when Shriners announced that they will "suspend indefinitely" operations at the Galveston facility, it means a bit more than shuffling patients and figuring out how to continue patient care.
What follows is a time line from which you can draw your own conclusions, including that which was written by the current Imperial Potentate in his last message as he name drops and gushes about hanging out with celebrities and traveling the world instead of rallying the troops and putting out the call for the faithful to raise money in the face of closing their beloved hospitals.
And about the traveling?