May 18, 2018 by John Fernandez and Tanya Racoobian
Virtual Zoo Field Trip at Miami Cancer Institute (Video)
For a child, battling cancer is hard work. Chemotherapy often takes a toll on them, with fatigue, nausea and hair loss among the side effects. For that reason, Miami Cancer Institute designed a space where kids can receive the necessary treatments while being immersed in a technological experience that positively affects their outcomes.
A group of children got a special treat as Miami Cancer Institute’s “infusionarium” partnered with Zoo Miami to bring the young patients close to animals like a Eurasian eagle owl, a rhinoceros iguana and an albino Burmese python, all through a virtual connection displayed on giant screens.
(The Baptist Health South Florida News Team goes behind the scenes as Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill brings several animals into the infusionarium at Miami Cancer Institute. Video by George Carvalho and Steve Pipho.)
Doured Daghistani, M.D., medical director of pediatric oncology at Miami Cancer Institute, says the Institute uses a comprehensive approach to treat each child. “We have a pediatric oncology support team that helps not only the child but also their parents and siblings,” Dr. Daghistani said. “Research has shown that entertaining the children during treatment can lead to less nausea and vomiting.”
Wildlife expert Ron Magill, communications director at Zoo Miami, connected virtually into the room while several patients received intravenous chemotherapy, mostly for leukemia, the most common form of cancer in children. “I think it’s a wonderful concept to have these kids in a place where they can escape for a little while, kind of take a mental trip and learn a little bit about the fascinating world of wildlife,” says Magill.
The effort is part of Miami Cancer Institute’s commitment to help patients and their families deal with the stress of cancer. This effort brings together pediatric physicians, oncologists, surgeons and radiation experts, as well as nurses, dietitians, therapists and social workers.
More virtual experiences are planned for the near future.