New tablets help put young Spencer Hospital patients’ minds more at ease

New tablets help put young Spencer Hospital patients’ minds more at ease
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Spencer Hospital’s younger patients now have a way to better relax when visiting.

The Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation recently approved the purchase of Amazon Kindle Fire Kids Edition tablets, each loaded with games, books, videos and movies. Kids now can play with the tablets while at the hospital for surgery and other services.

“It started with Dr. Brea Schmidt, one of our pediatric dentists here in town, making the comment to Matt Cooper, (the hospital’s) director of surgical services, that she’s noticed in her work with kids that those who have electronic devices just seem more calm when they are going into surgery,” said Mindy Gress, executive director of the Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation. “They’re maybe distracted a little bit more than others who don’t.”

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Cooper brought the idea to the foundation.

“Our board agreed that it would be one of those opportunities where we could enhance the services that somebody would get here at Spencer Hospital,” Gress said.

The tablets appeal to a broad age range.

“We tried to capture something that would interest any child from age one or two, like a movie they wouldn’t actually have to know how to play, up to the older ages that could choose to read a book or play a game of their choice,” Gress said.

The low cost of the tablets helped the foundation board quickly approve the purchase.

“It was a low-cost item that the board felt would have a big impact,” Gress said. “It really felt like a no-brainer.”

Kids who play the tablets may be better able to take their minds off why they may be at the hospital, said Susan Zulk, the hospital’s vice president of marketing and fund development.


“If you come to the hospital, you don’t feel well,” Zulk said. “It’s nice, particularly for children, to be able to reduce that anxiety.”

With the tablets on hand, parents don’t have to give children their smartphones or tablets.

“It’s much better than having a parent’s cell phone when they’re going back to surgery,” Zulk said. “Our team would prefer not to be responsible for someone else’s electronics.”

Gress said donations to the foundation are what make even the hospital’s lower-cost improvements, like the tablets, possible.

“We’re always thankful for the donors and their kindness to the hospital,” she said.

Photo (provided): The Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation recently approved purchasing tablets for children at Spencer Hospital. Here, pediatric dentist Dr. Brea Schmidt, who first brought up the idea, is pictured playing with a tablet with Lane, a young patient.