Despite the obstacles the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown in the way of celebrating the holidays this year, the Child Life Department didn't miss a beat in helping Rush University Medical Center's smallest patients enjoy this special time of year. On Wednesday, Dec. 16, Santa Claus visited patients at Rush University Children's Hospital with the help of the Chicago Fire Department.
On Thursday, the Child Life team helped set up a visit from Santa, transforming their office into the North Pole and using an iPad to bring Santa virtually room to room. He visited the neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, general pediatrics and the hematology oncology clinic to check in on patients and find out what is on their Christmas list.
This opportunity helps to brings normalcy and holiday cheer to patients and families. Mark Schimmel, the chaplain of Rush’s Road Home Program, graciously stayed in costume all day to play the role of Santa.
"Virtual Santa was a first for us this year, and it was a huge success,” says Shira Miller, MS, CCLS, manager, Child Life. “The kids and families were surprised and excited to have Santa ‘call’ them from the North Pole.
‘Many of the kids had shared with us that they didn't think they would get to see Santa at all this year. Listening to the conversations between the kids and Santa, and seeing the smiles on each of their faces reminded us why, even in challenging times, getting creative to provide such momentous experiences makes an immeasurable difference in a child's ability to cope with being in the hospital."