Kitsap Shriners pay for medical care for qualifying children

Learn more about the types of care they offer and about eligibility at a free workshop Oct. 9.

PORT ORCHARD — Free screening workshops for admittance into the Shriner Hospital will be 10 a.m. to noon, and noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Port Orchard United Methodist Church.

The Shriner Hospital is a valuable resource for children and their families who qualify for treatment — if accepted into the hospital, all medical expenses are paid for by the Shriners.

“Once a kid is accepted into the system, we make sure (they get treatment). Even if the parents don’t have resources to get them to the Portland Hospital, we will pay for their transportation if that’s what needs to be done,” said Steve Wilt, the hospital chairman for the Kitsap County Shrine Club.

The screening workshops specifically help identify children who can benefit from expert medical care at no cost to the child and their family at Shriner’s Hospitals. The hospitals can provide care for problems with bones, joints or muscles; cerebral palsy; spina bifida; scoliosis; hip disorders; hand or foot disorders; club foot; skeletal growth abnormalities; cleft lip/palate; and burn scars.

“We’ve been doing (the workshops) about once a year,” Wilt said. “We’d like to increase it to twice a year … we’re trying to find the best way to get (word) out to the public. A lot of people don’t know there are resources available, and it won’t cost them anything.”

Wilt said that once a child is accepted, they will be provided medical care, paid for by the Shriners, until they turn 18.

“Once they’re accepted into the program, we pay for everything,” Wilt said. We support those hospitals through our organization.”

Currently, about half a dozen kids are supported through the Kitsap County Shrine Club, Wilt said, though at times they’ve had 90 in the program at once. It depends on how many they can get in, Wilt said.

“We all work to get people into the Shriner’s Hospitals and provide support,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose of the Shrine, to support those hospitals.”

That support is provided through donations and fundraisers, Wilt said.

About the Shriners Hospitals

The Kitsap County Shrine Club works specifically with the Shriners Hospital in Portland, but there are 22 in North America. The next closest one is in Spokane.

According to an informational presentation provided by Wilt, Shriners International was founded in 1870 as an offshoot of the Masonic fraternity. They began with the intention of starting “a network of pediatric orthopedic hospitals across North America, beginning in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1922.”

The Portland hospital was built in 1924. It changed locations within Portland in 1983, built two additional floors in 1989, and received another expansion and remodel in 2011 to increase patient rooms to serve more children.

Currently, the hospital is a 22-bed facility with outpatient clinics and three operating rooms, with a “full spectrum of pediatric orthopedic, burn scar revision and cleft lip and palate repair.” Though the hospital takes kids primarily from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, British Columbia and Alberta, they “take care of kids from all across the US.”

There are also outreach clinics for the hospital, including one in Bellingham at 4545 Cordata Parkway. Learn more about the Bellingham Screening Clinic at

For a detailed list of care provided, visit To refer a patient to the Portland Shriners Hospital, call the main line, 503-241-5090. To learn more, attend the Shriner’s Free Screening Workshop, 10 a.m. to noon, and noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Port Orchard United Methodist Church, or call Steve Wilt, 360-731-6280.

Michelle Beahm is the online editor for the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at