Infusionarium: Creating a ‘Best Healing Environment’ for Hospitalized Children
If someone asked you “if you could get your medical care anywhere you can imagine, where would it be?” What would you say? Underwater? Maybe in outer space? For kids, these questions become even more important because the long-term stress of chronic hospitalization can cause. These questions were the inspiration for the Infusionarium project at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.
St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital treats over 60,000 of Tampa Bay’s children every year. Whether they arrive by ambulance, are recovering from open-heart surgery or undergoing cancer treatment, they receive the finest medical treatment, emotional support and loving care available. However, they have other special needs – play and distraction from their illness – that are met with the help of generous people throughout the community.
To calm and distract them, St. Joseph’s Child Life team uses a myriad of tools including art and music therapy, massage, and self-soothing techniques that cut down on anxiety, nausea and the use of pain medications. With the help of generous donations, the team has deployed a new technology called the Infusionarium to combat these effects.
The Infusionarium is an interactive treatment space that uses the latest audio-visual equipment in a hospital environment where children can decide what is their “best healing place” and then experience it while in the hospital.
Originally conceived of as a “best healing place” for children with cancer, Infusionarium combines the words infusion + aquarium to create an immersive environment where young patients can have some positive associations with treatment.
St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital intends to extend the capability for the experience into each patient room in the hospital.
While receiving their chemo infusion treatments, or in their hospital bed, kids will be able to decide where they want to be. This includes watching movies on jumbo screens, playing their favorite Xbox games, connecting with friends and family via Google Hangout, listening to music or tuning in to podcasts (such as watching animals live from the San Diego Zoo or even talking to astronauts at NASA) on high-end, noise-canceling headphones.
This new technology and programming will offer St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital with a whole new way to provide a distraction, a sense of normalcy and to help mitigate what can be the harsh side effects of illness and hospitalization.