CINCINNATI (WKRC) – The local healthcare landscape is about to change. Shiners Hospital says it's preparing to leave town.
The location on Burnet Avenue celebrated 50 years in 2018 but just announced it signed an agreement to relocate its services to Dayton.
Report: Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati to close
Shriners International Spokesman Mel Bower said, "As we've seen the decrease in acute burns, there's less need then there once was for having that acute bed space. So, the number of beds and the way a lot of those patients have been treated have changed quite a bit."
Kilee Brookbank, now 20 years old, received care at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital when her house exploded in 2014.
"It was tough. It was a long 38 days, but I was very grateful for the care I received. It was amazing care, so my family and I were just so grateful," said Brookbank.
The Xavier student started the Kilee Gives Back Foundation and has raised $290,000 for Shriners. In a statement, she says, in part:
She vows to continue support as will the 1,200-plus members of the Syrian Shrine Center in Evendale. Members of that organization said their focus is on the kids receiving free medical care and that's not changing.
Joe Lind said, “I am personally involved in this. Our daughter was burned in 2001 over 45 percent of her body. We have spoke across the country at functions to raise money. So, from the heart, I'm telling you this means something to me and my family."
Cincinnati Shriners will continue to raise money with their yearly circus and other events. Their signature hats were on display in the lobby. Bower said the aging hospital building on Burnet Avenue is too large. Now, only 30 patient beds on one floor are being used.
"A facility that is oversized for the care model that is being practiced today is not, we believe, the best stewards we can be of those donations," said Bower.
At a press conference in Dayton Wednesday morning, there was excitement and photos for the big announcement. The Dayton Children's Hospital CEO says they have the perfect space to lease to Shriners.
"It was once our pediatric intensive care unit and will provide the right type and size of space that they need to continue to provide care," said Deborah Feldman.
Shriners expects that patients will be seen at the new location in Dayton by the summer of 2020. Patients will still get the same services they can get at the Cincinnati location now.
The hospital relies on donations because they care for kids with burns or who need reconstructive surgery, regardless of the families' ability to pay.
There are 218 full and part-time employees who work in Cincinnati. Shriners says it's too early to say how many jobs will be transferred or eliminated.
The Shriners Hospital for Children, an institution for 50 years in Cincinnati, expects to move its operations to Dayton, Ohio by the summer of 2020 and sell its 30-bed Burnet Avenue building.
The decision reflects a drop in the number of children who suffer burns thanks to fire-resistant clothing and shifts in who pays for medical care.
The hospital, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, announced Wednesday that officials are in talks to move its services and name to a building on the campus of Dayton Childrens Hospital within 16 months.
After the move, the Burnet Avenue facility would be sold, said spokeswoman Mashayla Colwell. The building sits on the crest of Pill Hill in Corryville, between Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati.
On June 16, the hospital marked its golden anniversary with a grand patient reunion. About 30,000 patients have been treated at Shiners Cincinnati.
The downsizing has been long under discussion within the hospitals parent organization, the mens fellowship Shriners International. The hospital system is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, and operates under the slogan, Love to the Rescue.
Kilee Brookbank of Georgetown, Ohio, wrote a book, Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined,” about her 2014 burn and treatment at the Cincinnati hospital. She has raised nearly $300,000 for the hospital. She said Wednesday she is sad about the move.
We are proud to have been able to invest our time and effort into the hospital over the past five years, and we are grateful that Shriners was so close to home when I needed the care,” she said. “The important thing is that Shriners will still be operating its burn center from Dayton Childrens Hospital. Without Shriners relocating to Dayton, there would have been no hospital in the Midwest that specialized in burn care.
In 2016, The Enquirer featured the care at the hospital in a story about a young woman from India who came to Cincinnati to be treated for acid burns she received as a child.
Fewer than 200 doctors, nurses and other caregivers work at the Cincinnati hospital. Mel Bower, chief marketing officer for Shriners International, said the new facility probably will not need that many workers, but, “We certainly would like that as many of our employees as possible are able to join us.
Bower said it was premature to say whether anyone has expressed interest in buying the Burnet Avenue property.
Mark Shugarman, the administrator of the Cincinnati facility, said in the statement Wednesday, These changes are necessary to ensure that our hospital can continue to provide the finest pediatric specialty care for the next 50 years. Current health care trends require us to adjust our delivery model to more accurately reflect todays environment.
Colwell said that when the burn facility moves to Dayton, Shriners would continue its tradition of providing transportation for patients.
The change is a testament to half a century of improvement in burn care in the United States. Thanks to fire-prevention education, smoke alarms and fire-resistant clothing, fewer children suffer burns in fires, and the burns are less severe, requiring fewer and shorter hospital stays. The 15-bed second floor of the Cincinnati hospital has often been empty.
Cincinnati Shriners Hospital opened in 1968 as the Shriners Burns Institute, a part of Cincinnati General Hospital, now the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. When the hospital moved into the Burnet Avenue building in 1992, care expanded to include treatment of cleft lip and palate, skin and wound conditions and spinal cord injuries.
The hospitals interior is painted in cheerful colors to look like a kiddie-sized small-town main street. An atrium in the middle fills the building with light.
In Wednesdays statement, Shriners officials said they are negotiating with the Dayton pediatric hospital to lease space to be a distinct hospital within a hospital.”
Trends in health care have shifted toward more outpatient care, Shugarman said. Today, approximately 85 percent of pediatric medical procedures are performed in an outpatient setting, including burn care. The new location will allow Shriners Hospitals for Children to maintain its Southwest Ohio presence with a surgical facility designed to meet and exceed todays medical standards for its exceptional care.
In the past decade, the Shriners Hospital network has struggled as changes came in the financing of medicine, and fewer patients needed extended care. In 2009, the Shriners Hospital system nearly shut down, and some facilities were shifted to outpatient care.
The hospital has always treated patients regardless of a familys ability to pay, drawing from more than 26 states across the United States as well as other nations. The hospital system is the Shriners primary philanthropy, raising enough money to provide care for free. In recent years, Shriners Hospitals have started to accept private insurance for some patients to cover costs.