Robots are Coming to LAC + USC

Starlight and Astellas USA Foundation Bring VGo Robots to Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pediatric patients can go back to school with innovative telepresence robots

Starlight Children's Foundation and Astellas USA Foundation are partnering to advance children's health and education through technology with the placement of a new VGo robot at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. Patients, staff and representatives from Astellas USA Foundation and Starlight gathered at the facility today to officially unveil and demonstrate the new technology.

VGo robots offer hospitalized children the convenience and ease of telecommuting into a school or health care setting. Remote control access with two-way audio-video motorized mobility puts students with injuries, extended illnesses and other physical challenges back in the classroom, and gives doctors, nurses and child life staff the ability to care for patients over long distances. VGo robots allow users to easily move about in real-time through the school or hospital environment by means of a laptop or handheld remote control.

The VGo robot is being funded as part of a $250,000 grant from Astellas USA Foundation that will have a positive impact on quality of life for thousands of patients and staff every year at more than a dozen pediatric Starlight community partners across the nation, including children's hospitals and pediatric rehabilitation centers.

“We are very fortunate and appreciative of the wonderful gift provided by the Starlight Children’s Foundation and Astellas USA Foundation to our young patients and their families in so many different ways,” said Dan Castillo, Chief Executive Officer for LAC+USC Medical Center. "These robots will allow parents and family members to be able to interact and visit with their child virtually in the hospital by the use of the VGo robots, thus reducing the stress of hospitalization for the children whenever parents cannot be present for tests or procedures.”

Remote controlled through a laptop, iPad or iPhone, VGo robots allow a patient or a doctor to navigate and interact with people in a different location. VGo is uniquely integrated with a camera, microphones and a video display – all on a light-weight, motorized and stylish platform. VGo robots are optimized at 4 feet tall so they work equally well when interacting with people who are sitting or standing.

“Astellas USA Foundation is constantly striving to find creative ways to positively impact the health and well-being of patients and families,” said Jeff Winton, president of the Astellas USA Foundation. “We are proud that, through our work with Starlight Children’s Foundation and VGo robots, we are giving hospitalized children a chance to experience the classroom alongside their peers.”

"Access to education is critical for all children, but especially for those who are absent from the classroom due to illness, disability or other health-related challenges," said Amy Stillion, Senior Director, Global Impact & Philanthropy of Starlight Children’s Foundation. "We are grateful to Astellas USA Foundation for their generous gift and we are proud to partner with them and Los Angeles County USC Medical Center to provide this innovative technology that will support the health and education needs of children and families in the Los Angeles community."

In 2016, Astellas USA Foundation is funding the placement of 22 VGo robots in 13 Starlight community partners’ locations in Massachusetts, Illinois, Oklahoma and California. Previous support from Astellas USA Foundation to Starlight has funded the renovation of two state-of-the-art, family-friendly healing environments -- a pediatric dialysis unit in Oklahoma City and teen lounge in Chicago -- both of which opened in the past few months.

VGo was founded by veterans of visual communications and robotics industries who invented a simple and secure solution to enable a person in a distant location to replicate themselves in another location. VGo was acquired in 2015 by Vecna, a leader in autonomous logistics and IT solutions for healthcare.

About Starlight Children’s Foundation
Starlight is on a mission to improve quality of life for children, families and communities. We harness the power of giving to advance children’s health through a global network of community partners. Starlight supports kids and families in 11 countries and territories around the world. Learn more at www.starlight.org and follow Starlight on Instagram and Facebook at /StarlightChildrensFoundation and on Twitter @StarlightOnline.

About Astellas USA Foundation
Astellas USA Foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporate foundation that awards grants to support charitable, scientific, literary and educational programs. Learn more at www.astellasusafoundation.org.

About Los Angeles County USC Mecical Center
The 676-bed facility is one of the premier academic teaching hospitals in the nation and one of the state’s leading hospitals for training health professionals through its affiliations with the University of Southern California’s (USC) Keck School of Medicine and the Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health. LAC+USC Medical Center operates special units that serve patients from throughout Southern California, including a Burn Center, a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care unit, and one the busiest Level-One Trauma Centers in the country. LAC+USC is home to the Rand Schrader HIV/AIDS clinic, a 76-bed mental health facility, the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) offering medical, mental health, protective, and social services to over 20,000 victims of family violence and sexual assault each year, and a Wellness Center that integrates 17 distinct partner organizations to deliver free, community-based services.

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Media contact:

Chris de Haan, Senior Director, Public Relations
Starlight Children's Foundation
424-245-3698 or chris.dehaan@starlight.org

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