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Shriners Hospitals for Children is scrubbing a proposal to discontinue burn services in Boston, a plan that had stirred concern among patients and advocates that the decades-old hospital might close entirely.

The 30-bed Boston hospital treats children with life-threatening and other severe burns and is the only verified burn center exclusively for children in New England.

Earlier this year, officials at the Tampa-based Shriners organization said they were considering a plan to consolidate care, which could have included ending burn services in Boston. That plan raised fears among doctors, firefighters, and others, who said the Boston burn unit has been critically important for children with devastating burn injuries.


Hospital officials now say they’re committed to maintaining the burn center — with some still-undisclosed changes.

“It is our plan to keep the inpatient burn unit at Boston,” Mel Bower, a spokesman for Shriners Hospitals, said Thursday. “We’re very excited about the 50 years we’ve served the Boston region. We’re very excited that care will continue on into the future.”

Asked about the change in plans, Bower said hospital officials heard the concerns raised in Globe articles and from people in the Boston area “that there certainly is a strong desire in the community to maintain those services.”

But officials also said they’re planning to “change the footprint” of the Boston hospital and will work with others in the region to develop a “new model of care.” They declined to explain, saying the details were still being finalized.

The Shriners Hospital in Boston is next to and affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital.

Joan Sapir, a senior vice president at Mass. General, said officials at the two hospitals were talking about how best to serve burn patients.

“In this evolving health care environment, our two organizations have long been engaged in discussions about how we should work together in the years ahead to ensure that the children and families we collectively serve have the best possible access to the care and services they need,” Sapir said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing these discussions.”


Shriners Hospital in Boston is one of 22 in the Shriners network, but one of only four with burn centers.

Hospital officials said the plan to maintain burn care in Boston was approved by board members in June and affirmed in July at a large gathering of Shriners that’s known as an Imperial Session.

Shriners belong to a fraternal organization that provides charitable care to children. Their hospitals are funded largely through an endowment.

Nationwide, the rate of hospital stays for burn injuries has been falling, at least in part because of better prevention efforts, experts say. Shriners Hospital in Boston has experienced the same decline in inpatient care, according to state hospital data — but the number of outpatient visits continues to grow.

Severe burns can be fatal or life-changing. They can require many years of surgeries and other treatments, particularly for children with growing bodies.

Officials at the Children’s Burn Foundation in Sherman Oaks, Calif., which helps patients find burn treatment, said they were thrilled to learn the Boston hospital would maintain inpatient services.

“So many of our children, both nationally and internationally, depend on the excellent burn care that this burn unit has been providing for child burn survivors over the years,” Tanya Sorkin, chief program officer at the foundation, said in an e-mail.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.