Virtual Interactive Santa Bring Smiles To Children at Hospital

December 14, 2018 - 10:43 am
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Children who are stuck in the hospital during the holiday season don't have to skip out on visits with Santa thanks to some interactive technology. 

Patients at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Chicago were wheeled into an activity room which was decorated for Christmas along with huge television screen displaying a crystal clear video of Santa.

“We have Cyber Santa here and he’s visiting with all the kids.  He’s actually talking with them from the North Pole,” said Darlene Kelly, the hospital’s Director of Recreation Therapy and Child Life.

He also knew a little something special about the children since he was given some of their background information. So the experience was extra personal for the kids. “He knows all about them. You can kind of see their eyes, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, he knows my name and he knows what I want and he knows I have a sister and a dog.'”

They’re using video conferencing technology from a company called Dimension Data. Mitch Hershkowitz, with the company, said the picture quality makes it unique, making the kids feel like Santa is in the room with him. He said it’s also used to connect doctors with patients who are not in the hospital, as well as family members.

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“Parents, aunts, uncles, Grandparents, extended family can’t all be here, so they can use the technology to spend time with the children.”

Darlene Kelly said the Santa visits help to break the monotony for the children.

“You know, it opens their heart.  Some of them have been here for so long and it kind of breaks the day and gives them hope and it’s encouraging.  They have something to look forward to and it’s just a nice thing to have for the kids.”