ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - A new initiative at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital is hoping to improve the patient experience through technology.
A $240,000 grant from Child's Play Charity has made it possible for the hospital to supply nearly every patient with an iPad to help pass the time during treatments or a long stay.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, we really noticed the need for technology," said Mott Patient Technology Project Manager Connor Rivera. "Some kids had access to technology. Their schools provided them with laptops and iPads, but not every kid had that. The same thing for not only going to school but also connecting with their family. That was a really, really big need."
"Our teams have been working diligently to bring this technology to our hospital in an engaging, safe and thoughtful way to enhance our patients' experiences," chief operating officer of Mott and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital Luanne Thomas Ewald said in a statement. "We're thankful for our staff's incredible devotion to this project and the generosity of the donors who helped make it happen."
Seventeen-year-old patient Desmon Burciaga has been treated at Mott since he was four years old. He said the device helps distract him from procedures.
"It helps when doctors come in and have to give me treatments," said Burciaga. "So, I use the iPad just to let off a little of the stress from everything that happens."
He said he enjoys playing Angry Birds and watching funny YouTube videos.
Desmon's father Miguel Burciaga said the device has a calming effect on his son.
"It relaxes him, and it takes him away from the atmosphere we're in," he said. "I don't know what we would do if we didn't have something to go and chase other than just look at the needles that he gets every day.
"He's been coming here for 12 years now. He's here unfortunately today because of liver complications. (We're) trying to make sure that he gets well so we can go home and start our lives again."
The iPads feature 50 applications that were hand-picked and deemed age-appropriate by Child Life specialists at Mott.
"They are designed specifically for each unit," said Rivera. "So, if food is something each kid can't have at the moment, we kind of remove those apps so that it works for the kids. The same thing with flashing lights in our more seizure-prone floors, we may turn off that, too."
Siblings of patients can also use the devices.
We met 4-year-old Asher Mitchell, who is often visiting his baby sister, Amara, as she receives treatment.
His father, Austin Mitchell, said the iPad has helped entertain Asher throughout the family's inpatient experience.
"It's been great," said Mitchell. "Especially on the rainy days when we don't have anything to do and he can't go outside and obviously we can't leave here all the time, so it definitely helps when he's stuck in a little room."
According to a release, the devices are charged at charging stations on each unit instead of in individual rooms. When an iPad runs out of battery, hospital staff encourage patients to engage in another activity to limit the amount of screen time on the tablet.
The project was spearheaded by Mott's Therapeutic Gaming and Patient Technology program, which integrates educational and recreational technology into the hospital setting.
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