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Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital teams up with PatchWorx as part of a new online community for kids

Feb. 12, 2003, 2:47 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn – Children at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital can now use their bedside computers to join a new online community that fosters an environment where children can speak openly and honestly with peers about their illnesses and to provide encouragement to each other.

Thanks in part to a technology opportunities grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Vanderbilt’s bedside computer program, "Go Fetch" has teamed up with a California non-profit company to become part of a worldwide web community for children with illnesses or disabilities.

The three-year $426,000 grant was awarded to PatchWorx, Inc., to partner with sites throughout the United States to help incorporate into their programs. Initially Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (VCH), Riley Hospital for Children, the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington, Vermont and Stanford, California were selected by PatchWorx to partner and expand their existing on-line community.

Vanderbilt was chosen because of its innovative bedside computer program that allows children throughout the hospital access to a computer. A gift from the Jack C. Massey Foundation, Waitt Family Foundation and several other donors, allowed VCH to place a total of 32 computer workstations throughout VCH, with 23 of those on specially designed carts by Ergotron, Inc. The carts are designed to adjust and accommodate patients at every stage of treatment and recovery, such as those who can’t sit up in bed. Each of the carts contains a lightweight LCD "flat panel" monitor, video camera, keyboard, mouse, joystick and inkjet printer. There are four desktop computers at the Ronald McDonald House.

With the Monroe Carell Jr., Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt under construction and expected to open within the upcoming year, VCH officials are hoping to be able to expand the bedside computer project by more than 150 computers.

The computers do more than keep the children entertained. With a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, children and their parents email friends, play computer games, surf the web, watch DVDs, and do school work, all from the comfort of their hospital bed.

Video cameras on each computer allow children to videoconference, or allow their parents to monitor their children from home or work.

With the integration of PatchWorx and GoFetch, children will now be able to safely and securely talk to other children throughout the world who may be facing similar issues relate to their illness or disability.

"We’re so excited to be able to team up with PatchWorx," explained Angie Paulk, a child life specialist who oversees GoFetch. "Their resources, and the safe and secure website, will allow our children to integrate with a much broader community."

The PatchWorx website is available free of charge and can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection. The chat room is open at specific times, and always monitored by a trained moderator. Other sections of the site, such as the message boards, Show N’Tell, games, and Ask Patches are open continuously.

Under the evolving partnership between VCH and PatchWorx, VCH will identify patients who will benefit from joining PatchWorx, facilitate parental permission, monitor participation, help recruit adult volunteers and assist PatchWorx with the evaluation of the program. VCH will help PatchWorx create a "Circle of Support Across America."

"Expanding the access of our website to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital community allows us to reach more youngsters who feel isolated and alone. We break down the barriers of distance and illness to help patients develop positive coping skills, find information and become more proactive in their own care," said Teresa Middleton, PatchWorx president.

One PatchWorx member wrote, "I am grateful that I have a place to come where people understand and where I don’t have to worry about my differences being so obvious. I don’t know what I would have done this past year, or now, without this place."

About PatchWorx, Inc.

PatchWorx, Inc., is a non-profit, web-based online community for young people who are feeling isolated due to a serious illness or disability. The website and community provide a safe, secure and fun place for kids to share stories and ideas, laughter and tears, to learn from each other, and make friends with common interests.

For additional information on PatchWorx, please email inquiries to or contact Teresa Middleton or Lori Telson at

About Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital is dedicated to meeting the unique healthcare needs of children, from newborns to young adults, by providing primary and sub-specialty services and serving as a regional referral center. By continuing to invest in the future well-being of children, families and the community, the hospital is committed to furthering family-centered care, research, technology, and education.

Media Contact: Jerry Jones, 615-322-4747

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