Shriners Children’s Texas soon will be able to house and provide parking to about 40 patient families after buying and demolishing an idle East End restaurant building.
A groundbreaking ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Dec. 5 at Shriners Children’s Texas, 815 Market St. in Galveston. The new facility will be west of the hospital, across from the Moody Medical Library, at 910 Market St.
The project began in January with the demolition of a building on Postoffice Street that had been home to several restaurants, including Schutte’s Corner, Farley Girls Café and Buck’s Barbeque Co.
Shriners bought the property in 2020 and announced plans to consolidate operations in Galveston, marketing and communications manager Mark Hodges said. Galveston has been home to Shriners’ acclaimed burn hospital since 1963, but the consolidation will expand the hospital to include cleft lip and palate disorders care, orthopedics and spinal care, Hodges said.
“Shriners treats some of the most severe burns in children and sees patients from all over the world,” Hodges said. “Shriners was one of the first pediatric burn units and sees many patients from Mexico and beyond.”
Because of the long time it can take for patients to be treated and recover, the new housing facility will be a great benefit, Hodges said.
“Families come from all over and may not have or be able to afford a place to stay,” Hodges said. “This will allow them to be with their families and focus on their health. Other patients may need outpatient care but need to stay close by and can live with their families.”
Shriners International was founded in 1872 by two Master Masons — Walter M. Fleming, a physician, and William J. “Billy” Florence, according to the organization’s website. The organization’s famous red hats are said to have been inspired by an Arabian-themed party in Marseille, France, attended by Florence, according to the website.
The first Shriners hospital was opened in 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana, after a polio epidemic, according to the website. Since then, the organization has established 22 hospitals across the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The organization has grown to 200 chapters and thousands of clubs across six continents, made up of 200,000 “brothers,” according to the website.
In addition to treating burns and providing orthopedic care, Shriners also treats craniofacial conditions, spine and spinal cord injuries and provides colorectal, gastrointestinal and sports medicine care, according to the website.
The organization provides specialty medical care to the children and families regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status, according to the website.
Shriners is on the campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch, but operates independently from the medical branch.