Today, I will take part in a groundbreaking for a wonderful new facility in the Washington University Medical Center campus: a new Shriners Hospital for Children.
The original Shriners Hospital in the St. Louis region was located near the Washington University Medical Center. The new facility will therefore return Shriners Hospital to its ancestral home. Its mission of patient care, teaching, and research about the complex orthopedic problems of children is a perfect fit with the City’s overall emphasis on being an international center for health sciences and biotechnology.
As any of the 20,000 or so Shriners and their friends in town this week will happily tell you: the St. Louis region’s Shriners Hospital provides great orthopedic medical care for more than 12,000 children each year and serves a nine-state region-at no charge to the families, to insurance companies, or to any other third party. This makes the facility an invaluable asset for children with the most complex orthopedic conditions, especially those families with little or no ability to pay for care.
The new location in the City will have some major benefits - for Shriners, for the Washington U Medical Center, for the children Shriners serves, and for us.
Many physicians who provide services at Shriners are also involved with the Washington U Medical Center. The new location will make it far easier for these docs to serve their patients at Shriners and continue their work at the Medical Center.
The presence of Shriners and the new research facility that will be included in the development will add a new and desirable facet to the already wide array of research that takes place at the Medical Center.
The new location, easily accessible by public transportation, by highway, and through Lambert Airport, will also make it easier for children in need who live in the City, the region, and all of the hospital’s service area to access Shriners’ excellent no-cost orthopedic medical services.
And, finally, the new facility will bring 300 jobs back to the City.
It is less than politic to admit to having favorites, but today’s ceremony will be right near the top of my list.