According to the Houston Chronicle:
Convention delegates voted to keep open all of the 22 hospitals nationwide in the Shriners system and, in a separate decision, voted 756 to 482 to reopen the Shriners Hospital for Children-Galveston.
The leadership failed to convince delegates to close hospitals in Shreveport, La.; Spokane, Wash.; Greenville, S.C.; Erie, Pa.; and Springfield, Mass. Delegates will vote over the next two days on proposals to save the money-starved system without closing hospitals.
The vote followed months of lobbying by the 1,000-member El Mina Shrine, based in Galveston. Tommy Lambright, the Shriners Hospital for Children Galveston board member who led the lobbying effort, said every one of the 1,500 delegates to the convention was contacted by phone.
This in spite of catastrophic losses for the Shriners' foundation that funds the hospitals—in part, because of reduced contributions, but largely because of the plummeting stock market. The assembled Shriners were not swayed by pleas from the leadership for financial common sense. The trustees were directed three years ago to try to increase the $8.5 billion hospital endowment to $14 billion. When the stock market fell last year, however, the investments plunged to less than $5 billion.
Shriners' Hospitals CEO Ralph Semb was quoted as saying in April, “Unless we do something, the clock is ticking and within five to seven years we’ll probably be out of the hospital business and not have any hospitals."