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Q&A: Peter Brewer

CEO of Shriners Hospitals for Children By Colin Anderson

Photo by Kiersten Patterson Photography

Every year, over 125,000 kids receive care from 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children locations across North America, including here in Spokane. The hospital system spends millions of dollars every year ensuring children from all over the world get the best pediatric specialty care available, regardless of their ability to pay. We asked CEO Peter Brewer what makes this all possible.

Q. Your hospital cares for infants up to 18 year of age. What types of ailments are treated here?

A. The Spokane Shriners Hospital treats conditions ranging from serious orthopaedic issues requiring multiple surgeries to fractures or sports injuries easily corrected through same-day surgery. In addition, patients also receive physical rehabilitation, radiology, lab services and casting all within the Spokane hospital. All care and services are provided regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

Q. What types of training do your doctors and surgeons go through that is specific to working with children?

A. All orthopaedic surgeons complete a five-year residency before they are allowed to practice as a general orthopedic surgeon. Shriners Hospitals for Children requires its pediatric orthopaedic surgeons to complete a full additional year of training in a fellowship in the pediatric orthopaedic subspecialty. This extra year is used to further hone their expertise in the unique needs of growing bones and joints. Orthopaedic surgeons must also maintain their certification with specific continued education, peer reviews to verify ethical practices, and oral and written examinations.

Q. Many people might not realize you are also a research and educational hospital for physicians. What sort of research is done at Shriners?

A. In addition to providing medical care, Shriners Hospitals for Children also conducts innovative research that leads to improved treatment methods and offers quality education opportunities for tomorrow’s medical professionals. The goal of this three-part missions is, quite simply, to improve lives. What began as a small research effort, with a budget of $12,000, is now a multimillion-dollar, sophisticated program, involving peer-review of grant applications and recognized around the world. Over the years, our researchers have made major significant breakthroughs in all four of our service areas. Our close affiliations with colleges and universities across the country allow us to enhance the quality and scope of our research.

Q. What type of environment does Shriner's create for young patients battling serious conditions?

A. In addition to providing medical care, our staff works with each patient and family to build understanding of the complexities and implications of the child’s medical condition. We are proud of taking the time to listen to our patients and help them develop the confidence and self-esteem needed to overcome challenges and move into the adult world successfully. The registered nurses work with our physicians to create a care plan for every patient and maintain open lines of communication with the family and medical team. Our care managers help facilitate transitions in care as the children move between departments and also connect the children with community resources, aligning the resources with patient needs.

Q. What is something people would be surprised to learn about your Spokane campus?

A. The Spokane Shriners Hospital has the region’s only dedicated pediatric urgent fracture clinic. Kids who have a documented fracture receive priority same-day appointments in our Outpatient Clinic. If the child’s fracture is surgical, the kids are fast-tracked into our outpatient surgery unit.

Q. What community organizations do you partner with to help brighten the days of children who might need to be hospitalized for longer periods of time?

A. We offer our kids pet therapy; all pets have been national certified through Pet Partners. These pets offer comfort and distraction to our kids. We are supported by many community groups who bring joy to our kids through music, gifts, visits and parties. We have an amazing team of volunteers who join us in our mission of caring for kids; they help us out every day in a variety of departments throughout the hospital.

Q. How can the community assist Shriners and its mission?

A. We could not have been able to provide the excellent care through the years to the more than 1.4 million children without the generosity of our donors. We are grateful to every donor who cares about children’s health and well-being, and we appreciate every donation and gift. If our community would like to help support our mission, they can visit ShrinersSpokane.org for more information.

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