Robot Helps Santa Visit Patients Virtually at Bronson Children’s Hospital
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – With the help of a new robot rounding through the halls of Bronson Children’s Hospital, Santa and Mrs. Claus recently paid virtual visits to patients throughout the pediatric unit.
Santa’s elves, including child life specialists and art and music therapists, assisted in safely directing the robot into patient rooms so the Clauses could connect with the children on screen.
The new technology was funded thanks to generous donors to the Bronson Health Foundation. The robot was originally purchased to connect hospitalized children with their school classrooms, but due to the pandemic, the children’s hospital staff has found other uses for the technology. The robot program is called BRITE, which stands for Bronson Robotics Interface for Teaching and Engagement.
Wendy Kellogg, child life specialist at Bronson Children’s Hospital, helped to arrange this special visit. “During the pandemic, we’ve had to be creative and find ways to still offer therapeutic programming for our pediatric patients,” says Kellogg. “It was wonderful to give our patients this chance to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. We know children are comfortable with seeing people on screens, but having the robot here made this a unique experience. It was heartwarming to see all the smiles it brought to our patients and staff.”