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Former Shriners Hospital patient to speak at conference for polio survivors


“Living with the Late Effects of Polio” will be the topic of discussion when polio survivors from throughout Northern California gather in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, September 20, for a one-day, post polio conference. The conference begins at 9 a.m. in the Pleasant Hill Community Center, 320 Civic Drive, Pleasant Hill.

Among the foremost authorities on polio scheduled to present at the conference is Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, a former patient of Shriners Hospitals for Children, appointed by President Obama to serve on the National Council of Disability.

Afflicted with polio as a child, Dr. Torres-Gil received medical care at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. He now serves as Director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging and is an Adjunct Professor of Gerontology at USC. His academic contributions have earned him membership in the prestigious Academies of Public Administration, Gerontology and Social Insurance. Dr. Torres-Gil’s research spans topics of health, including long-term care, disability, entitlement reform, and the politics of aging.

Other conference presenters include Dr. Helen Kent, founder of Progressive Medical and a respiratory therapist at the University of California, San Diego; Dr. Selma Calmes, former chair of the anesthesiology department at the UCLA Medical School; Dr. Laura Halstead, former director of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C.; Dr. Rhoda Olkin, director of the Institute on Disability and Health Psychology; and Dr. Carol Vandenakker, who established a post-polio clinic at the UC Davis Medical Center in 2001. Dr. Calmes and Dr. Halstead also are polio survivors.

Since opening its first hospital in 1922, Shriners Hospitals for Children has evolved into a pediatric health care system with 20 locations in the United States, one in Canada and one in Mexico. Children throughout the United States were treated for polio at a Shriners Hospital. Hundreds of children from Northern California were treated at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco, which opened in 1923 and relocated its programs to Sacramento when Shriners Hospital for Children — Northern California opened in Sacramento in 1997.

The post-polio conference is hosted by the San Francisco Bay Area Polio Survivors (SFBAPS), Post-Polo Group/California North Coast, Sacramento Post-Polio Group and Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California. For information about the conference, call 925-286-9804 or email

Ranked as one of the top pediatric orthopaedic programs by U.S. News & World Report, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California is a regional a pediatric medical center providing the gift of specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns, scars from any cause, cleft lip and other complex surgical needs. Admission is based on age and diagnosis. Care is provided regardless of the family’s ability to pay. For further information about Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California, please call 916-453-2000 or go online to


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