Microsoft Grant Supports Computer Center for Hospitalized Children

BOSTON, Sept. 22, 1999 — For young patients at Franciscan Children’s Hospital (FCH) in Boston, the world became a brighter place today with the grand opening of the
“Microsoft Clubhouse,”
a new computer center designed to help alleviate isolation and improve the quality of life for children hospitalized with disabilities or serious illnesses.

The Clubhouse, funded by a grant from Microsoft, has computers equipped with state-of-the-art adaptive hardware and software — such as touch screens, keyboards with oversized keys, voice-activated switches and talking monitors — to ensure that all children of all abilities will have full access to the Internet and be able to use the computers for communication, education and therapy to enhance their recovery. Today’s opening ceremonies were helped along by two professional athletes, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics and Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox, whose teammates have pledged to provide mentoring and support for children using the Microsoft Clubhouse.

FCH is the largest rehabilitation center in New England devoted exclusively to patients between infancy and age 22, treating 700 children on an inpatient basis, averaging 140,000 outpatient visits and completing as many as 1,000 surgical cases annually. The hospital offers major programs in brain injury, pulmonary and adolescent rehabilitation, behavioral health, and treatment for birth defects and genetic problems, as well as medical day care and home health care. FCH is also known for its diagnostic evaluation program and the Kennedy Day School, which serves approximately 90 children with multiple disabilities.

At the new Microsoft Clubhouse, children will be able to communicate with other children coping with similar health issues; keep in touch with friends and relatives who may not live close enough to visit them in the hospital; and maintain friendships with classmates. According to hospital officials, the Clubhouse will help facilitate the children’s transition between home, hospital and school by assisting with academic training and breaking down the barrier of isolation that often surrounds children who are hospitalized or recovering from serious injuries or illnesses. The Clubhouse also will be used as a therapeutic tool to enhance recovery, allowing children to work on skills ranging from visual-motor and fine-motor skills to cognition and memory training.

Michael Kosek, Microsoft’s general manager for the New England Region, said the Microsoft Clubhouse is an initiative that Microsoft and Franciscan Children’s Hospital have shared and worked toward for a long time.

“They have a tremendous vision for how technology can excite and inspire people, especially children who feel cut off from the world because of illness and disabilities,”
Kosek said.
“These children have more heart and spirit than you can imagine. Now we hope to stimulate their minds with all of the ideas, and access to information and people, that technology can provide.”

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