Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Gives Patients a Dose of Virtual Reality

March 6, 2019

The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center is offering virtual reality goggles to help pediatric patients with pain management, relaxation, and anxiety reduction. 17 year old Ryan Shaughnessy demonstrates the use of the goggles.

New programs aims to help reduce a patient’s pain and anxiety

The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center is offering its pediatric patients an escape from potentially painful or uncomfortable procedures and to relieve anxiety to create a positive experience.

In an effort to reduce stress and offer a calming distraction from the treatment they are undergoing, patients can put on a set of virtual reality goggles to escape the hospital environment and go on an exciting Journey.  This state-of-the-art, interactive technology by appliedVR™ was given to the Child Life Program at the children’s hospital by a generous donor through the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation.

“The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital is incredibly grateful to this philanthropic support, which supplied the funding for the technology,” said Amy Glazer, executive director of Development at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Tackle Kids Cancer. “This gift has provided hundreds of patients comfort and relaxation during the most stressful of circumstances.”

“The virtual reality goggles are a wonderful tool to help manage acute and chronic pain in our pediatric patients,” according to Stacey Rifkin-Zenenberg, DO, FAAP, pediatric hematologist/oncologist, Children’s Cancer Institute, and section chief, Pain and Palliative Care, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.  “The goggles, which are a form of guided imagery, have been shown to help alleviate anxiety with procedures. This technology allows the patient to use many senses to distract during a procedure or during a pain crisis. This technology truly supports the emotional wellness and therapeutic needs of our patients.”

“The Child Life Program was provided funding to purchase 10 pairs of appliedVR™ goggles and secure the licensing for the products,” said Ellen Goldring, section chief of Child Life, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center. “Since integrating the program into our patient care, our Child Life team has seen incredible success in helping patients with pain management, relaxation, and anxiety reduction.”

17-year-old Ryan Shaughnessy says he has used the goggles several times during his hospital stays.

“It was fun, and using it made me feel a little better,” said Ryan Shaughnessy. “It really took my mind off the situation and was fun to play all the games on it and to learn how to use the program.”

The fully mobile, virtual reality technology allows patients to leave the confinement of their treatment area or hospital room by taking them on a variety of exciting journeys or to play various games. With the technology, pediatric patients can relax on a sandy beach or tranquil ocean or they can visit any number of scenic destinations across the country and around the globe. The VR software is constantly being updated, offering patients an ever-expanding assortment of places to go to.

The headset is easy to operate and is being used to further assist child life specialists while they care for patients. This technology offers an entertaining distraction to children when they are receiving important, yet typically anxiety-inducing treatments, such as blood draws, IV insertions, spinal taps, dressing changes and blood transfusions.

About Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, a 781-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is now part of the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care, which is comprised of 34,100 team members and more than 6,500 physicians. Hackensack University Medical Center was listed as one of the top two hospitals in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018-19 Best Hospital rankings. It was also named one of the top five New York Metro Area hospitals. Hackensack University Medical Center is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Hackensack University Medical Center as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America 2018. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 25 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. Hackensack University Medical Center has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. Hackensack University Medical Center is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to THE NORTHERN TRUST PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events especially the Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign providing much needed research at the Children’s Cancer Institute housed at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. To learn more, visit www.HackensackUMC.org.