Shriners Houston accepting burn patients

June 22, 2009 12:35:56 PM PDT
When the Shriners burn hospital in Galveston closed in January after Hurricane Ike, it left a huge void. There was no place in Houston that could treat children with severe burns, but that has changed. In this exclusive report, we learned the Shriners Orthopedic Hospital in Houston is now taking children with burns. Josh Shupak, 13, is one of the young Galveston burn patients, now getting help in Houston. His burns cover 95% of his body.

"There was a grown man. He threw gas on a fire, it splashed and got me on fire," said Josh.

For more than a year, Josh has had dozens of surgeries.

"My mom said I had 40 in two months. Everywhere except for here to here and my feet," said Josh.

The hardest part he said was losing his fingers.

"I do pretty good with these," said Josh, showing off his hands.

Since the hurricane, burn patients have been treated unofficially at Houston's Shriners Orthopedic Hospital. However, after April 1 it will be official that both hospitals have been melded into one, and now Shriners Orthopedic Hospital in Houston is seeing 2,000 burn patients from Galveston.

"They're teaching us about burn care, we're teaching them about orthopedic care and the end result is the same level of quality," said Steve Reiter, CEO of Shriners Hospital for Children of Houston.

Twenty-four staffers have been hired from the Galveston Hospital. The burn surgeons come here from Galveston's UTMB Burn Center.

"It's been an easy transition and a great transition. The Houston hospital has been accommodating, the operating rooms are wonderful, the clinics are wonderful and our patients, I think are happy," said Dr. David Herndon, Chief of Burn Services, UTMB.

This was Jason Turley's first visit to the Houston hospital. The 11-year-old Oklahoma boy has burns over 75% of his body from a brush fire.

"The first two hospitals we went to said he wasn't gonna live. He didn't have any chance of survival. We got to Shriners and they said there's no reason why this kid can't live. They saved my son's life," said Jason's mother, Renee Peterson.

Now the people that saved Jason, Josh and so many others are in Houston to stay.

Another void was filled just one week ago, when UTMB's Burn Center in Galveston began taking children with emergency burns for the first time. Now all emergency burn patients, children and adults, can be treated. Shriners Hospital in Houston will do the follow-up care for burned children and continue its orthopedic programs.

To refer a child to Shriners Hospital, call 713-793-3765 or 1-800-853-1240 or log on to the Shriners website.

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter

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