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Jacobi patients take on tablets

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These Apples may not keep the doctor away, but they sure can brighten up an extended hospital stay for a youngster.

Pediatric patients at Jacobi Medical Center in Morris Park are now using touch-screen iPads to play games, listen to music and hang out during their down time at its Acute Care Center.

“It’s great to play games and stuff if I get bored,” said nine-year-old Tiernan Keelan Corey, who was using one of the touch-screen tablets on a recent Tuesday to play a Batman video game as he bided time between asthma treatments.

Jacobi Medical Center’s inpatient Pediatric Unit received five of the Apple iPads this fall as part of a cross promotion with the Starlight Children’s Foundation and tri-state Cadillac dealers.

The touch-screen devices are being shared among the unit’s patients, who so far are having a great time with the products, said Carla Pratt, the licensed social worker in charge of the unit’s day-to-day operations.

Jacobi’s inpatient pediatric unit treats folks as young as a few months old to up to 18 years of age. The facility is capable of housing up to 32 patients, who run the gamut of medical conditions but share a lot of down time limited to the one-floor unit.

Patients stay for as short as a few days to weeks at a time, Pratt said. For those feeling well enough to leave their beds, the free time means heading to the Unit’s playroom, open from 9 a.m to 7 p.m.

Adding touch-screen iPads to an already full room of toys, board games and a Nintendo Wii gaming console has amped up the fun.

“Now we have a more updated piece of technology,” she said. “Keeping in step just makes the program better.”

Luis Mercedes, a 10-year-old asthma patient sporting a Knicks jersey, spent his afternoon playing a tablet version of the board game Operation. He said he was also looking forward to playing Madden, the football video game —maybe even against another one of the patients.

Pratt said even the younger patients have tried their hand at the touch-screen devices.

“I’ve seen a child as young as 15 months use one and be able to swipe, and know what they were doing,” she said.

Pratt said the Unit was working on downloading therapy and educational apps on the tablets.

The only concern now, she said, is making sure the iPads are fairly distributed amongst the patients.

She’s been locking the devices in the playroom cabinet when they are not in use.

“We have to be a little careful,” she said. “All of the kids are going to want to use these iPads.”

Ben Kochman can be reach via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394
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