Van Elrod of Tucson, Arizona, and Joe Alvarado of Las Vegas, Nevada, are two outstanding Shriners who are leaders in child-care issues. Both are inspiring men who have given years of their lives to improving the health care of children. They are leading the way for new and innovative projects such as regional and local clinics for children. Alvarado is a local hero in Las Vegas, with the mayor, congressmen and community leaders supporting him for his progressive spirit. Joe Alvarado can put together men of power and resources with ease in Nevada. In Tucson, Van Elrod speaks softly but carries a big stick. He makes things happen and is impacting thousands of families with his good work. Both of them are not impressed with big bureaucracy and meaningless "talk." They are men of action.
This is a time of transition for health care and hospitals for children in the USA. The clinic in Tucson is a perfect example of new things to come. It was my pleasure to be with Van and Joe and hundreds of others for meetings and to formally inaugurate Van Elrod as the "POTENTATE" (leader) for the Sabbar Shrine Temple of Tucson. People from around the nation gathered to join a large group which is devoted to helping children with healthcare needs. They showed me what Van Elrod the Potentate is doing with the Tucson Shriners for health care there. The Freemasons own a location, which has been developed as the Square and the Compass health care clinic for children. This facility has over 50 treatment rooms, originally created for children. Our guide said:
"Since the parents were bringing their kids here and felt comfortable here, we added adult health care to our operation, and the combination has been successful. A key to this is a collaboration with Obamacare, local and state agencies and support from the Shriners and Freemasons so that no patient has to pay for treatment."
This institution does not work under the umbrella of the 22 Shriner Children's Hospitals but instead works as an independent entity, owned and controlled in Tucson. It is financed, encouraged and supported by Tucson individual Shriners and Masons, as well as other agencies and groups, to provide specific care to kids and parents in the Tucson area. Van Elrod said, "We offered this to the Shrine Hospital Group, but they said there were not enough people in Tucson to support such an institution." So they got together with other leaders in Tucson and now have one of the most successful healthcare clinics in the state.
The facility offers a broad variety of medical services including examinations, diagnosis, treatments for routine illness, accidents, dental care, physical therapy and a host of other services. The facility is modern and bright. Officials told us that "We took the Disney look out and made it more interactive so that older children would also feel comfortable." Below is a room for children's activities with a place for parents to sit and watch them.
In the new day of changing health care laws, it is refreshing to see dedicated individuals step up and overcome the world of bureaucracy and politics, to continue to help kids with their daily health care needs. Plus they have done this in a way that benefits the entire community. While hospitals and health care organizations throughout the nation are struggling to adjust and survive in this "new world" of health care that is changing so fast, Masons and Shriners in Tucson have created an excellent example that works and works very well. The Square and Compass children's clinic is a joyful place to visit. "We even bring some children here all the way from Mexico, and it is very rewarding to see them get first-rate treatment," said Potentate Van Elrod.
So the next time you hear about a Shrine Circus or a Shrine activity, remember these guys all work for free to help kids. And while others are groaning about the health care system or about bureaucracy or about politics, these men are making things happen! Look at the growth of this clinic> 42% increase in primary care patients and growth at every level of product service. 86% "overall satisfaction rate" from those who are treated there. The clinic has 62 specialty care physicians. The Masons "Square and Compass" group, owns the building and Van Elrod is the President of that group. The cooperative venture for "kids" has been a huge success.
Another thing that impressed us at BootheGlobalPerspectives was the transparency and obvious lack of "control issues." This medical clinic has a public "constructive criticism" display board that every parent, patient or interested party can post to if they have a recommendation, criticism or some issue that they believe the board needs to address. Every item becomes an agenda item, and this group recognizes and improves things. This is so refreshing when we see some organizations which are wrapped up in political or institutional issues, fearful of new ideas and often hesitant to recognize and honor issues that might be important. This VOICE OF OUR FAMILIES achieves not only immediate response to criticism or new ideas, but it builds morale and motivates nurses, doctors and staff and eliminates division or frustrations that "we are not being heard."
While hundreds of people were coming in for the coronation of Potentate Elrod, there were many others like myself and Joe Alvarado who were impressed and inspired by this clinic for children and adults.
Instead of just wringing their hands or spending energy on bureaucratic budget/policy issues or talking about negative cuts and lay offs, these guys have made a wonderful institution available, one that is expanding and growing daily. The doctors and staff at this institution are happy and enthusiastic. Patients, families and kids love going to this clinic. The board is positive and creative. It was fun to observe the doctors, nurses and kids up close and experience the joy and energy that comes from a locally-owned and controlled institution that is serving hundreds of children and their parents per month, at no cost to the patients, and with few or no bureaucratic chains.
Keep up the good work, Masons and Shriners, in Tucson! You have created a marvelous example of "America at work for the future."
This could be a model for similar and new clinics throughout the nation. Particularly relevant is that this type of institution is flexible enough to be able to deal with changing health care laws and regulations.