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Shriners to announce plans for troubled hospitals

Thu., July 9, 2009, 8:05 a.m.

SAN ANTONIO — The Shriners are wrapping up their annual meeting in San Antonio and are expected to announce changes to their children’s hospitals.

For 87 years, the group has provided free care to children without billing insurance providers. But the recession has hammered the Shriners’ endowment, and they have considered closing six of their 22 hospitals, including Spokane, to slow the financial bleed.

In preliminary votes, the Shriners refused to close the hospitals but agreed to begin seeking payment from insurance providers. Final decisions on the future of the system were expected to be announced later Thursday.

The board of trustees also proposed the closure of the hospitals in Shreveport, La.; Greenville, S.C.; Erie, Pa.; Springfield, Mass.; and Galveston, eliminating a total of 225 beds.

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