MUSC to partner with Shriners for burn unit in new children's hospital

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It appears a new children's hospital being built in Charleston will likely have a pediatric burn unit that uses expertise from a children's orthopaedics, spinal cord injury, cleft lip and palate and burn hospital.

The Medical University of South Carolina and Shriner's Hospitals for Children have signed a letter of intent to facilitate their potential collaboration on a proposed expansion of pediatric burn services within the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital.

The new MUSC children's hospital is being boasted as the most advanced facility of its kind in the area, "transforming care for children and families throughout the region," according to MUSC.

MUSC reached out to Shriners to seek its burn expertise and announced the collaboration during a Darius Rucker country music concert in Charleston that was a fundraiser for the new hospital.

"The more time we spent with the Shriners leadership team, the more clearly our compatibility of vision and mission came into focus," said David J. Cole, MUSC president. "When it comes to marshaling resources to make a positive difference for children in need, the Shriners have an incredible history of impact. As a result, it was natural for MUSC to reach out to Shriners Hospitals for Children to leverage their expertise and experiences in pediatric burn care delivery."

Shriners is a network of 23 nonprofit medical facilities across North America that accepts children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients' ability to pay.

There is a Shriners hospital as close to Sumter as Greenville, but there are currently only four locations - Boston, Massachusetts; Cincinnati, Ohio; Galveston, Texas; and Sacramento, California - that have burn care centers.

While discussions are still in the early stages - a letter of intent is used in most major business transactions as preliminary terms before negotiations begin, like an "agree to agree" document - MUSC officials said they foresee a future role and further collaboration with Shriners based on their "world-renowned reputation for excellence in caring, treatment and research related to the full range of pediatric burn injuries."

"The future potential for developing a close working relationship with MUSC provides an exciting opportunity for Shriners Hospitals for Children to perpetuate our mission and reach by treating more children in need of Shriners's specialized burn care in locations more readily accessible to those patients and their families," said Gary J. Bergenske, board of director chairman for Shriners.

MUSC, the oldest medical school in the South, educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges - dental medicine, graduate studies, health professions, medicine, nursing and pharmacy - and has nearly 13,000 employees, including about 1,500 faculty members. The 700-bed medical center includes the nationally recognized children's hospital and a Level I trauma center, among other specialized care centers.

"MUSC burn unit clinical staff will also have the opportunity to train on site at a Shriners Hospitals for Children Burn Unit," said Patrick J. Cawley, CEO for MUSC Health and vice president for Health Affairs, University.

"To establish that level of synergy and ease of operation so early in our relationship reflects the natural alignment of our values and a shared approach to delivering the highest-quality care to every patient.