The Shrine Hospitals closure hits CNN

I just happened to open CNN this morning and the story of the Shrine Hospitals is front page news.  For any Mason following the media, it isn’t the story on the Jesters, or in membership, its the very real and distressing story of the potential closure of 6 of its 22 hospitals, following the loss of $3.3 million dollars in the stock market crash.

Obviously, this will affect a large number of people in a very negative way, and no one wants to see it come to pass.

The challenge that they face, however is such that potential options include letting Shriner’s hospitals themselves accept insurance or Medicaid from those families who have it covering the co-pays and deductibles or having Shrine doctors perform major surgery at partnered hospitals, and allowing insurance to bill what it can, then cover the rest.

The challenge is losing oversight in the work performed and having to follow Federal oversight curtailing the ability to treat as they see best.

Since its earliest inception, the Shrine is still a significant contributor to the hospitals which also accepts outside contributions and donations.  Today, the Shrine     arranges and pays for the transportation of children and parents to the hospitals and donate time driving families to the hospitals and entertaining the patients.

Additionally, Shriner’s helps support the hospitals financially by paying an annual $5 hospital assessment assessed in their dues. Various temples and clubs also hold fundraisers to contribute to the hospitals.

Originally founded in 1922, it has, in the past 20 years, had more than 8,000 physicians who have received residency education or postgraduate fellowship in their facilities.  The Shrine is a adjunct unit of Freemasonry, pulling its membership from the roles of the Craft Lodges.

Given the present situation, and the continued decline in membership, It leaves me wondering if this will be the straw to break the camels back in the separation between the two fully developed organizations and allow the Shrine to further its aims.

You can read the full story “Possible closure of six free Shriners hospitals scares parents” at CNN.

Posted in Masonic Traveler and tagged .

A devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart.


  1. Yea it is very sad, also to note on the Shrine Hospital in L.A. we have a Rainbow Girl down here in Fallbrook who has a curvature in her back, and they set her up to have the surgery and gave her the option to do it as well and when they went back to the Shrine hospital about 3 weeks ago to tell them that they are going to do the surgery and go through the operation, the Shrine Hospital said that they don’t have anymore Back Surgeons at the hospital and therefore could not give her the surgery. This was just recent news from my lodge at our last stated meeting last week on Thursday. This is some sad stuff to see for sure.

  2. From what I know, Canada only has one Shrine hospital (in Montreal). But it’s a bit odd that in a country which has universal health care to have an organization that supports free health care for children. The only added benefit I see is that the Shrine in Canada is simply alleviating our own universal health care costs.

    In the U.S., of course, the situation is much different and the hospitals are a great necessity and a great benefit.

    But considering that the closures are related to the stock market decline and not necessarily a drop in membership numbers, fundraising, or donations, one wonders if the idea of being a Shriner in “helping kids” is actually true. Are they as a whole group?

    Or perhaps the organization is really getting it’s money from enticing those Masons who are looking for the “and having fun” part and enjoys it so much that he leaves a large endowment which is then invested to grow. I would say so. From my understanding, Shrine hospitals receive only 2% of their funds from Temples themselves and the rest from endowments and investments.

    Which, to me, defeats the purpose of the Shrine really doing any fundraising at all. Or is this fundraising simply to prop up the “fun” part of the organization under the guise of “helping kids”.

    In this sense, how is this really any different than what a Masonic lodge does to prop itself up to cover costs? And if so, then really, if the hospitals can continue to operate through endowments, then what is the purpose of the Shrine’s existence or at least being associated with Freemasonry? Why couldn’t any person become a Shriner, let alone a Mason?

    There’s no doubt in many Masonic jurisdictions in North America, that many Shrine members are Grand Lodge officers and have directly encouraged one-day-classes, and fast-tracked men into becoming Shriners before they even realize what it really means to be a Mason.

    Yet many of the Shriners I know are very active lodge members and from what I see, they are involved because of Masonry, not because they are recruiting new members. So I don’t mean to devalue their membership in their lodge or in the Shrine.

    All this said, if it wants to entice more men into having fun and leaving a large endowment upon passing on, what is preventing the Shrine from dropping its Masonic membership requirement in order to achieve that goal?

    AND.. wouldn’t having another organization out there in which a man joins and realizes that most of the members are also Masons, encourage him, rather than
    require him to join if he so chooses?

  3. I second most of what Hatrock says. It has come to light a few years ago that most of the hospital expenses were paid for by corporate sponsorship & donations. The Shrine is in trouble because the economy is in trouble and corporate sponsorship has dried up. Most all the money the Shriner’s collected themselves were spent by Shriner’s on themselves. That means that all those Shriners in the roadway at traffic lights with the cans soliciting donations were collecting cash that was not used for crippled and burned children. Sadly it was used in some cases for lavish parties where the booze flowed freely and other less reputable actions were participated in.

    Personally I see nothing Masonic in what Shriner’s do except for pure charity which is a duty performed by all Masons but also equally well by the Lions Club, most churches and many other organizations. You will never see the square and compasses as part of the Shriner uniform. Nor will most of their activities have any correlation to the character building spiritual ceremonies of the Blue Lodge, Scottish and York Rites. And yet where I spent most of my Masonic life, 50% of all Shriners never graced a Blue Lodge meeting again after they were raised. Of course that means that 50% did, but I don’t call that anything to be proud of.

    What irks me and has made others downright angry has been the Shrine’s strategically placed members in the hierarchy of Blue Lodge Grand Lodge, there to influence policy in the Shrine’s favor. The Shrine has used its Masonic political muscle and its former large cash reserves to steer American Freemasonry in a direction that was not healthy for Freemasonry but only beneficial to the Shrine. In so doing the Shrine has cut off its nose to spite its face. Now that Blue Lodge can no longer feed the Shrine membership fast enough we hear trial balloons being floated of a Mason/Shrine split.

    I, for one, will right upfront say:

    Bye, bye Miss American Pie
    I will not cry if the Masaon/Shrine relationship should die
    Bye, bye Miss American Pie
    You can’t build character on a big fat lie
    Bye, bye Miss American Pie

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