Santa Claus goes hi-tech at Cohen Children’s Medical Center

Kayshaun Rowe of Hempstead and Child Life staff greet virtual Santa.

Christmas came a little early this year to the young patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, thanks to the kindness of technical wizards at Presidio and Cisco Systems.

Through the Cisco Santa Connection, patients who are unable to celebrate in the comfort of their own homes due to illness can still experience the magic of the holiday.

Using a video monitor and web-enabled camera today, Santa “virtually” visited with children in the third floor playroom who were eager to discuss their holiday wish lists. The children, who were led to believe that Santa was communicating live from his home in the North Pole, delivered a list that ran the gamut from electric guitars and video games to toy trucks and art books.

In the meantime, Santa (who spends the rest of the year as a Cohen Children’s employee) spoke lovingly to the children who were accompanied in the playroom by Child Life staff members dressed as elves and other holiday characters.

And, for those who didn’t feel well enough to leave their rooms, a mobile cart or iPad enabled with Cisco Jabber software helped Santa travel room-to-room for a personalized bedside visit – all of this without once leaving his workshop in the North Pole, according to the children.

“We’re so happy that Cisco was able to bring their expertise once again to Cohen during this holiday season,” said Patricia Ottavanio, special events coordinator at Cohen Children’s. “Thanks to them, we are able to bring Santa to the children.  During this time of year, it’s very difficult for children and their loved ones to be away from home. Events such as these help make Chanukah and Christmas a happier time for these families.”

Brian and Keri Adams, of Central Islip, joined their infant son, Derek, in the playroom. Watching with happiness as he banged on a little drum, Derek’s parents said: “This event makes children feel like they’re not in the hospital. We appreciate the effort being made by everyone here today to being Santa to our children.”

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About the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York
Founded in 1983, Cohen Children’s Medical Center is a 202-bed hospital dedicated exclusively to the care of children. The specialists in the hospital’s national and international programs cover an entire range of specialties. State-of-the-art care for children’s medical, surgical, and dental needs are provided in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The facility is the largest provider of pediatric health services in New York State, serving 1.8 million children in Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. For the 11th consecutive year in 2017, Cohen’s was ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals in U.S. News & World Report's 2017-18 “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals” survey, achieving top-50 rankings in nine of 10 pediatric specialties.