Everton Football Club and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital made sure that young patients didn’t miss out on their annual Christmas visit despite coronavirus restrictions – thanks to innovative robotic technology used by the hospital for the first time outside of a clinical capacity.
Over two days this week, Everton players used specialist robot telemedicine equipment and software to take part in virtual ward visits, hand out presents virtually and bring smiles to the young Alder Hey patients, many of whom will be spending Christmas in hospital.
The players could see and hear the patients, and zoom in to pan around the room, while the patients and staff could chat and wave to their Blues heroes as the robot made its journey around the wards.
The children also received Everton merchandise from the Club, and a selection of toys gifted by Everton's Official Global Tyre Partner Davanti Tyres.
Duncan Ferguson also spoke to a group of staff at the hospital, thanking them for all of their efforts this year and particularly throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Everton players’ visit was the first time the robot technology has been used non-clinically at Alder Hey, with the hospital employing it during the pandemic to allow for accurate, remote clinical decision-making without a clinician having to be in the room.
Funded by Alder Hey Children’s Charity, it was also used before the pandemic to ensure that neonatal babies cared for by both Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s Hospitals were provided with the best possible care.
Nathan Askew, Chief Nursing Officer, said: “We knew that making this year’s Christmas visit happen would be a challenge, but we also knew that everyone involved would do whatever they could to ensure it went ahead. It wouldn’t be Christmas without our player visits, and it gave a real lift to our children, families and staff.”
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EVERTON AND ALDER HEY TEAM UP FOR VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS VISIT
Everton captain Coleman said: “In an ideal world we would have gone to the hospital ourselves and seen all the kids. It is something we have really enjoyed over the years, because you really do put a smile on their faces.
“Thanks to the help of Alder Hey’s technology we were still able to have a conversation with the kids through video. It was different, but the kids seemed to enjoy it. Hopefully it was a nice surprise for them.
“As players it is something we should never take for granted - being given the opportunity to speak to our fans, because that’s what this football club has always been about - the fans - especially when they are going through tough times, like some of the kids that we met this week. We hope we helped put a smile on people’s faces, that’s what it’s all about.”
Alongside the ward visits, Everton players also sent video messages for Alder Hey to share with patients during their Christmas light switch on virtual event.
Alder Hey cares for more than 330,000 children each year and has forged strong links with the Club’s official charity, Everton in the Community, which runs regular activities at the hospital.