Tampa General Hospital Partners with The Florida Aquarium to Bring Innovative, Immersive Experience to Pediatric Patients

The Muma Children’s Hospital at TGH now offers robot-guided virtual aquarium tours to pediatric patients.

Video Link: https://vimeo.com/948343262/064327d2cc

TAMPA, Fla., May 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Tampa General Hospital (TGH) launched the first phase of a new, innovative program in partnership with The Florida Aquarium to provide pediatric patients with the opportunity to participate in immersive virtual tours of the aquarium from their hospital beds, with the help of a custom-built robot. As of its launch, the program is one of only a handful of such programs in the nation.

“We are tremendously proud to partner with The Florida Aquarium to revolutionize the care experience for our pediatric patients and their loved ones who are along for the duration of their care journey with them,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General and president of the Board of The Florida Aquarium. “When we think about innovation at Tampa General, we’re really thinking about new and unexpected ways to create value for our community and our team members. This program is an exceptional example of how an unconventional partnership can elevate the standard of care patients can expect to receive from an academic health system.”

As the region’s leading academic and research health system, Tampa General treats patients with some of the most critical and complex conditions, meaning some patients admitted to the Muma Children’s Hospital at TGH may spend several weeks or months in the hospital from the time they are admitted through their rehabilitation and recovery process. Recognizing that long-term pediatric patients may be unable to leave the hospital for extended periods of time, Tampa General and The Florida Aquarium collaborated to enable a meaningful connection to the world outside of the hospital’s walls.

“Both The Florida Aquarium and Tampa General share an unwavering commitment to healing and teaching, and a partnership to deliver on that with an exciting, first-of-its-kind educational experience for our community’s pediatric patients has been a rewarding opportunity,” said Roger Germann, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “This has also been an incredible opportunity for our team to expand the impact of our work by engaging children who are excited to explore and learn, especially with their families or classmates, but may not otherwise have the opportunity to visit us.”

To support these patients at every step throughout their hospitalizations, Tampa General’s dedicated team of Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) promote effective coping through education about procedures and diagnoses, preparation and play to reduce stress and anxiety. The Muma Children’s Hospital at TGH’s CCLS team, through consultations with patients and their families, identify patients who are interested in taking 30-minute virtual tours of one of the aquarium’s four distinct habitats and work closely with their counterparts at The Florida Aquarium to schedule the tours, which are then conducted virtually using a remotely controlled robot driven by the patient using a laptop. Guided by a team member on the ground at the aquarium and a CCLS in the room with them, participating patients can freely explore the aquarium’s exhibits, moving the robot’s cameras up and down, and zooming in or out, to simulate the experience of an in-person tour.

This program was created with a patient-centered approach, tapping into Tampa General’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, a committee of former patients and their loved ones who regularly review and provide feedback that is incorporated into new policies, protocols or initiatives that impact patient experience. Additionally, prior to the program’s launch, Tampa General’s CCLS team engaged patients at the Muma Children’s Hospital by asking them to complete coloring sheets of the robot with a name nomination, which were then hung on the hospital’s walls for a voting period and determined the robot’s official name, Aquabot 3000. Once the Aquabot 3000 arrived at The Florida Aquarium, their staff teamed up with Tampa General to have real pediatric acute care and rehabilitation patients preview the program to ensure a fun and seamless user experience for future participants.

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with The Florida Aquarium in such a meaningful way to set a new standard for what a stellar patient experience can and should look like for some of our youngest patients,” said Melissa Golombek, vice president of the Muma Children’s Hospital at TGH and the TGH Women’s Institute. “Not only does this program offer our pediatric patients something fun to look forward to during what is often a challenging time in their lives, but it gives them a sense of autonomy and an opportunity to create joyful childhood memories despite their illness or injury.”

Tampa General and The Florida Aquarium will continue to scale this partnership during a second phase, when they will acquire a second robot and create more opportunities for patients to engage with this cutting-edge technology.

Tampa General Hospital, a 981-bed, not-for-profit, academic health system, is one of the largest hospitals in America and delivers world-class care as the region’s only center for Level l trauma and comprehensive burn care. Tampa General Hospital is the highest-ranked hospital in the market in U.S. News & World Report’s 2023-24 Best Hospitals, with six specialties ranking among the top 50 best hospital programs in the United States. Tampa General Hospital has been designated as a model of excellence by the 2022 Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals list. The academic health system’s commitment to growing and developing its team members is recognized by two prestigious Forbes magazine rankings – in the top 100 nationally in the 2023 America’s Best Employers for Women and top 25 in Florida in the 2023 America’s Best Employers by State. Tampa General is the safety net hospital for the region, caring for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, and in fiscal year 2021, provided a net community benefit of approximately $240.3 million in the form of health care for underinsured patients, community education, and financial support to community health organizations in Tampa Bay. It is one of the nation’s busiest adult solid organ transplant centers and is the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. With six medical helicopters, Tampa General Hospital transports critically injured or ill patients from 23 surrounding counties to receive the advanced care they need. Tampa General houses a nationally accredited comprehensive stroke center, and its 32-bed Neuroscience, Intensive Care Unit is the largest on the West Coast of Florida. It also is home to the Muma Children’s Hospital at TGH, the Jennifer Leigh Muma 82-bed neonatal intensive care unit, and a nationally accredited rehabilitation center. Tampa General Hospital’s footprint includes TGH North which is comprised of three hospitals and several outpatient locations in Citrus and Hernando counties, 17 Tampa General Medical Group Primary Care offices, TGH Family Care Center Kennedy, TGH Outpatient Center, TGH Virtual Health, and 21 TGH Imaging outpatient radiology centers throughout Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties. Tampa Bay area residents also receive world-class care from the TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track network of clinics. To see a medical care professional live anytime, anywhere on a smartphone, tablet or computer, visit Virtual Health | Tampa General Hospital (tgh.org). As one of the largest hospitals in the country, Tampa General Hospital is the first in Florida to partner with GE Healthcare and open a clinical command center that provides real-time situational awareness to improve and better coordinate patient care at a lower cost. For more information, go to www.tgh.org.

Media Contact: Beth Hardy, APR
Assistant Manager
Publications & Physician Communications
(727) 510-6363 (cell)
[email protected]

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SOURCE Tampa General Hospital

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