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Total Immersion Room

How do you help a child battling cancer escape the reality of chemotherapy and infusions that last for hours?

You take them out of this world!

Imagine instead of chemotherapy you’re waving to an astronaut in outer space, or diving for treasure in a sunken ship wreck of maybe you just want to escape to the beach and listen to the waves lap the shores of Sanibel Island – just watch out for those afternoon showers!

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“This is cutting edge. It’s a project I’ve aspired to bring to our pediatric oncology program for a long time,” said Dr. Emad Salman, Regional Medical Officer of Golisano Children’s Services and Lee Physician Group Pediatric Division and a practicing pediatric oncologist. “This will be a first in Florida and we believe the first of its kind, totally immersive virtual reality chemotherapy room in the country. We hope this room not only entertains the children we treat but also helps reduce stress by helping them escape their reality for a little while.”

It’s not just the total immersion scenes. This newly developed state-of-the art total immersion room will also allow patients to play their favorite video games or stream movies. Kids will have total control over their environment and can be entertained with the immersive backgrounds or in a black box theater style surround sound setting. Everything is controlled through an iPad and video game controller. 

“The kids are going to love this! We always try to make getting chemo the best experience it can be, but this will add a new element of fun and distraction,” says Tammy Wilbur, a hematology/oncology nurse who has worked with Lee Health for ten years. She says that the different scenes are engaging and will help by putting all patients and even parents at ease, whether they are two years old or 30 years old. “The biggest challenge is going to be getting the kids to go home and leave. I think we will have competition for who gets that room and how often they want to be in it,” adds Wilbur.

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The total immersion room was designed uniquely for Golisano in partnership with d3 Creative Studio out of Babcock Ranch. Founder Anthony DeBono III and his team worked for two years in collaboration with Golisano leadership to create this unique space which is part of an overall expansion of pediatric hematology and oncology services in Naples. The newly expanded clinic will provide chemotherapy for the first time in Naples, helping patients save time and energy traveling to Golisano and increase access to care by up to 40%. Until this month the hematology oncology clinic was only open once a week for half a day. The expansion includes the build out of three clinic exam rooms, a nutrition station and medication room which is specialized for cancer care along with the new total immersion room.

This expansion of the clinic space was funded by philanthropy including a challenge grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation which rallied community support from private foundations, businesses and individual donors. The immersion room has yet to be adopted by a donor. If you are interested in learning more contact Amy.Frith@LeeHealth.org at the Lee Health Foundation.

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  • Total Immersion Room