April 22, 1996 in Nation/World

Hospitals’ Financial Freedom Helps Patients

Bruce Krasnow Staff writer

Shriners hospitals accept no fees nor do they bill insurance companies.

The arrangement gives them unusual freedom.

Patients don’t feel like they need to check out as soon as possible. Rooms are wired for personal computers, and therapy sessions can run as long as necessary.

Dr. Edward Lester said the Spokane Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children was the first to fit kids with new electric hands or spring-loaded artificial feet once considered experimental.

Insurance companies would never consider paying for these, he said. “We have an opportunity to introduce them here first.”

The hospital keeps its costs down with volunteers from the Shriners lodges.

Last year, 150 volunteers logged a total of 12,000 hours at the Spokane hospital. They pull charts, measure height and weight of kids, run mail routes, work in the kitchen and cafeteria.

“We are spoiled rotten for a non-profit agency,” said Lori Snow, hospital volunteer coordinator. “They’re dependable, they’re motivated, they see this as their hospital. I don’t recruit - we don’t have to.”

Nationwide, there are 22 Shriners Hospitals. Spokane’s hospital serves the largest geographical area, including Alaska, British Columbia, Montana, Idaho and Eastern Washington.

The $22 million hospital was built with cash from the Shriners’ perpetual endowment fund, said Bruce Campbell, 68, a longtime board member.

Its operating budget of $6 million comes from fund-raisers as well as a $5 yearly assessment on each Shrine member, 2,500 of whom live in Spokane.

, DataTimes

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