Grant helps CS Mott Children’s Hospital provide iPads for children, teens who need treatment

$240K grant helped hospital afford iPads, implement safety features

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital at the University of Michigan. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Children and teens who need treatment at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital will have access to an iPad thanks to a grant.

Children and teens who need dialysis, treatment for chronic conditions, or an overnight stay at the hospital will receive an iPad. The iPad will allow them to play more than 50 age-appropriate games, make music and art, or connect with friends and school.

More than 150 iPads were distributed throughout the hospital. The iPads were purchased through a $240,000 grant from Child’s Play Charity and the Bungie Foundation’s Little Lights program.

There is also a two-year process by the Therapeutic Gaming and Patient Technology program at Mott that will make sure the children are safe and in compliant with hospital regulations.

Each iPad has more than 50 apps that have been reviewed by the hospital’s Child and Family Life services team to ensure they’re developmentally appropriate and engaging.

“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,” said Luanne Thomas Ewald, M.H.A., F.A.C.H.E, chief operating officer of Mott and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. “We’re thankful for our staff’s incredible devotion to this project and the generosity of the donors who helped make it happen.”

J.J. Bouchard, manager of the Mott patient technology program, said the COVID pandemic highlighted the need to improve access to technology for those receiving care at the hospital.

Bouchard said some children brought in personal tablets or other devices, but not every child had one to use from home. Because of security permissions, even some with access still couldn’t connect with their school.

“We knew that some kids didn’t have the same access to technology as others, but this became even more obvious during the pandemic when there was an increased interest in virtual interactions with loved ones, schools and communities,” Bouchard said. “By providing iPads to everyone, we can help ensure patients all have access to resources that may help address social isolation during hospital stays.”

Nursing staff and child life specialists have been trained to use the devices. Any content that isn’t deemed appropriate by the hospital has been blocked. The camera can only be used on apps like Zoom.

The iPads are charged at charging stations in each unit and not in individual rooms.

“This program provides opportunities to promote positive interactions with medical staff and nurses and empowers the child in many ways. They can choose what they do, from being creative with art or music projects, to playing a favorite game,” said Connor Rivera, patient technology specialist at Mott.

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