Robots are Coming to Rush Children's Hospital

Starlight and Astellas USA Foundation Bring VGo Robots to Rush Children's Hospital

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Innovative telepresence robots support health and wellness in communities across the nation

Starlight Children's Foundation and Astellas USA Foundation are partnering to advance children's health and education through technology with the placement of two VGo robots at Rush Children's Hospital at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Patients, staff and representatives from Astellas USA Foundation gathered at the facility today to officially unveil and celebrate 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 2-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 robots are 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. In Chicago alone, Astellas USA Foundation donated funds to support the purchase of thirteen VGo robots for seven children’s hospitals.

We are very excited and grateful for this generous and thoughtful gift that will help sick children in a number of ways,” says Robyn Hart, director of Child Life at Rush University Medical Center. “The robots will help allow family members who are away from the hospital to interact and visit children without putting the patients’ health at risk. And, it will allow for parents to virtually be with their child using this robot while they are receiving a needed test or exam where the parent cannot physically be present.”

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 committed to making a difference in the health and well-being of children and their families,” said Jeff Winton, president of the Astellas USA Foundation. “Through the innovative work of the Starlight Foundation, we’re proud to play a supporting role in a unique program that will help kids through the healing process inside and outside hospital walls.”

"Starlight is proud to partner with charitable organizations like Astellas USA Foundation to fund innovative technologies that advance children's health and wellness," said Amy Stillion, Senior Director, Global Impact & Philanthropy of Starlight Children’s Foundation. "Through their generous gift, Astellas USA Foundation will provide greater access to educational opportunities and medical care, help lower costs for families, school systems and hospitals and improve overall health and education outcomes for students, patients and healthcare staff."

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 Rush Children's Hospital -- Rush University Medical Center
Rush University Medical Center encompasses a 664-bed hospital serving adults and children. Rush has more than 9,300 employees and faculty. Rush University, with more than 2,500 students is a health sciences university and is comprised of Rush Medical College, the College of Nursing, the College of Health Sciences, and the Graduate College.

The Rush Children’s Hospital is committed to family-centered care. At Rush Children’s Hospital, doctors from more than 30 specialties treat children facing a full range of pediatric diseases, including Down syndrome, spina bifida, cancer and gastroschisis. As a regional referral center, Rush Children’s Hospital offers specialized care to children throughout the Chicago area.

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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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