According to an article in the Houston Chronicle on Saturday, the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston will be closing, a victim of the economic downturn. Employees were told last Thursday that the 42 year old facility would be shutting its doors indefinitely.
According to the article,
"Administrators told employees at the end of the meeting to go home and not return until a 1 p.m. Monday meeting with Shriners International President and CEO Ralph Semb.
“This sounds like a lockout, but it’s not,” hospital administrator John Swartwout Jr. told employees, a remark met by groans and muttering.
Swartwout said the Shriners board decided Jan. 16 to suspend hospital operations as an emergency measure to shore up its finances. . . Semb told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday that hospital operations were suspended because the national economic downturn had decreased the Shriners endowment, which has shrunk from about $9 billion to $5 billion.
The decline reduced interest payments from the endowment, which finances the 22 Shriners hospitals, Semb said."
The Shriners' website reports that the Galveston Hospital has already been closed for renovation since Hurricane Ike caused major damage to the facility last September, and children needing care have been sent to other Shriners Hospitals. The site goes on to say that, because of the current economy, the Shriners Hospitals for Children, which provides pediatric care at no charge, "is currently facing the most tumultuous and trying economic environment in its 86-year history."