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Children’s Hospital Patient Goes to School Virtually With New VGo Robot

Close your eyes for a minute and put yourself in the shoes of a ten year old boy who spends a lot of time in the hospital…missing many days of school and fun activities that his classmates and best friends get to experience. Now, imagine how excited you would be if you were told that you could visit your friends at school, while you are in the hospital! Jacob Aucoin, a fifth grade student at Duplessis Primary and frequent patient at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, didn’t have to imagine for a second what it was like to visit his classmates – he got to experience this first-hand through a real robot!

Teachers and students at Duplessis Primary School interact with Jacob Aucoin, a 5th grade student in the children’s hospital, via a Vgo robot.

4theKids, a local, teen-led charity in Baton Rouge, generously donated a VGo robot, named WeeGeaux, to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in hopes of completely transforming the family and patient experience. VGo is a remote controlled robot that allows patients to visit their school, friends, family or special event that they can’t attend or feel while in the hospital. The patient controls the robot from an application or website on any type of mobile device or computer. Essentially the robot stands in the place of the patient and the patient can drive and interact through the screen of the VGo. 4theKids Founder Elizabeth Sherman states, “Our research of the WeeGeaux was an exciting solution to improving the patient’s need to remain in touch with others. Jacob’s virtual outing is a perfect example of 4theKids’ mission to make things better for kids, and of the emotional and resulting physical support and improvement we hoped WeeGeaux would provide to patients. Watching Jacob’s expressions as he interacted with his classmates brought us all to tears.”

Melissa Lewis Anderson with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital watches an iPad with Jacob Aucoin during his virtual school experience with WeeGeaux

Jacob was able to use the WeeGeaux to visit his classroom, teachers, friends, book-fair and art show at his school. Jacob mentioned that WeeGeaux was “the coolest and biggest robot toy ever!” Having this robot does more than just provide a fun activity for our patients. WeeGeaux allows the patient to mentally escape from their hospital bed. Jacob truly felt like he was at school hanging out with his friends and even felt like he was shopping at the book fair! Katie Aucoin, Jacob’s mom, told us, “Sometimes after Jacob is in the hospital for a few weeks it’s hard to keep his spirits up. He was so excited to visit his class at school with the WeeGeaux robot. Reconnecting with them was just what he needed. What ten year old boy wouldn’t love to drive a life size robot?”

The virtual experience also feels real for the students at Jacob’s school. These fellow students point out paintings at the school’s art show.

Brandon Meyer, an IS Audio Visual Specialist at Our Lady of the Lake, had the great opportunity to walk Jacob through this WeeGeaux experience.  Meyer said, “It just struck me, all of a sudden,  Jacob wasn’t in the hospital for two hours. He (in his mind) was at school with his friends, teachers and brother. That’s so powerful.” Delivering this type of experience adds to the healing process that we want to bring to our patients at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

To make a contribution to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and help make things better and more amazing for kids, visit the donation page here.