Help Santa bring some joy during telehealth visits to pediatric patients

  • Santa pays a visit to a pediatric patient at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital last year. As a precaution against COVID-19, staff will again arrange virtual visits with Santa for children at the hospital.

    Santa pays a visit to a pediatric patient at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital last year. As a precaution against COVID-19, staff will again arrange virtual visits with Santa for children at the hospital. Courtesy of Northwestern Medicine

 
 
Updated 11/21/2021 10:34 AM

The child life team at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield pulls double duty as Santa's elves during the holiday season.

Each year, they escort Santa through the halls and give gifts to patients in the pediatric units.

 

As a precaution against COVID-19, Santa will once again make his rounds virtually this year. Child life specialists will take an iPad with Santa on FaceTime from room to room.

The team first did this in 2020 and found it was a safe and fun way to spread holiday cheer.

"Having a virtual Santa visit during the holidays is purely magical," said Dora Castro-Ahillen, child life services program manager at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. "Our hospitalized children aren't expecting it, so when they're presented with the opportunity to talk to Santa, it becomes the highlight of their day and helps bring hope and positive feelings."

Team members also hand out gifts to patients during this time.

To make shopping and delivery easier for those interested in donating toys or books, the team put together an Amazon wish list with a variety of items for children of all ages.

"We put some thought into the items we selected and chose things that we know are popular," Castro-Ahillen said. "We always like to make sure we have a variety so that no child is disappointed."

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If you would like to send some items to children in pediatric units this season, you can use the wish list at amzn.to/3Duqmlj.

There are four different wish lists to browse, with ideas for children at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, the NICU Reading Program, Child Life at Central DuPage Hospital, and Northwestern Medicine Proton Center where pediatric patients are treated for cancer.

When you check out, a shipping option will appear for the registry address.

The virtual Santa visit will take place mid-December.

Castro-Ahillen said there is still a need for toys beyond that date, so they can spread holiday cheer to children throughout December.

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