Organization donates robots to help hospitalized children in Oklahoma with education

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By Danielle Dunn for The Oklahoman

BETHANY — The Starlight Children’s Foundation and Astellas USA Foundation are partnering to help children’s health and education by placing VGo robots at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, 6800 NW 39 Expressway.

The robots offer hospitalized children the ability to telecommute to a school or health care setting, giving students with injuries, extended illness or other physical challenges a way to get back in the classroom. The robots also will allow doctors, nurses and staff members the ability to care for patients over long distances.

“It’s critically important for hospitalized children to stay connected to the outside world, to continue their education and to simply have fun while receiving medical care or rehabilitation,” said Amy Stillion, senior director of global impact and philanthropy of Starlight Children’s Foundation.

The two-way motorized robots with audio and video are funded as part of a $250,000 grant from the nonprofit Astellas USA Foundation to create a positive impact on the quality of life for patients at more than a dozen pediatric Starlight community partners across the country.

“Astellas USA Foundation supports creative ways to positively impact patients and their families,” said Jeff Winton, president of the foundation.

Robot helpers

Controlled through a laptop, iPad or iPhone, the VGo robots allow patients and doctors to interact with people in different locations. The robots feature a camera, microphone and video display and are 4 feet tall, allowing easy interaction with people whether they are sitting or standing.

“We feel blessed to be chosen as a recipient of the VGo robots. These robots will allow the patients an opportunity to enjoy life outside of a hospital room,” said Melissa Richey, director of communications and marketing for The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital. “The robots will also allow siblings of patients, who aren’t able to sit bedside, the chance to communicate, which will drastically strengthen that bond between them.”

Danielle Dunn is public relations coordinator for The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany.