In many ways, Tyler Lindsey is a typical teenager. The tall 18–year old likes to watch all the movies he can get his hands on. He is also an avid video gamer. Tyler’s mother, Margie Lindsey, laughs, and is quick to point out: “Tyler and his Xbox 360 are never very far away from each other.”

Something else, however, sets Tyler apart from other kids his age. He is a warrior engaged in battle – only this battle isn’t a video game appearing on a TV screen. Tyler is fighting for his life.

Since his January 2009 leukemia diagnosis, Tyler and Margie Lindsey have been on a roller coaster. The Lindsey family has had to make repeated visits to Batson Hospital for Children for Tyler’s chemotherapy treatments; the rest of the time, they make frequent follow-up visits for physicians to assess the effectiveness of the treatments.

“When he was first diagnosed, we stayed here at Batson for three weeks,” Margie Lindsey explains. “It was a challenging time for us. Tyler had never really been sick before. For him to receive a cancer diagnosis was a real shock. However, everyone here at Batson has made it the best possible experience and I know he is getting the best possible care here. From the minute he first came here, Tyler has felt comfortable. It is very difficult to make an extended hospital stay feel like home, but Batson does just that. Tyler doesn’t get upset when he knows he has to come here, especially now that LodgeNet has been installed.”

LodgeNet

LodgeNet is a versatile, robust, “latest generation” technology product created by LodgeNet Interactive Corporation. Found in over 1.8 million hotel rooms throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico – and reaching more than 500 million hotel guests per year – LodgeNet’s initial design was to serve as an in-room entertainment and hotel guest services system. Very quickly, however, LodgeNet Interactive Corporation saw another application for its products: healthcare.

Integrating patient education resources and customized hospital information features with high-definition entertainment and video gaming components, LodgeNet is revolutionizing the patient experience. The healthcare application of the interactive LodgeNet system offers a user-friendly interface, a diversity of child-friendly streaming content, and engages with patients/families on health-related topics through a self-guided format. Due to its immense capacity to better the lives of patients, LodgeNet is being adopted by major hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the U.S.

“Previous to the LodgeNet system,” Margie Lindsey adds, “Batson had standard cable TV. The schedule was set in stone and if you missed the start of a show, tough. Now, with LodgeNet, 24-hours a day, Tyler can choose a movie, pause it, back up, and surf different options. I can’t fully describe to you what an improvement LodgeNet has made on our stays at Batson. Sometimes Tyler has to have a certain kind of treatment in the middle of the night; when he does, they come to check his vitals every 20 or 30 minutes. Sleep just isn’t possible. With LodgeNet, Tyler can watch a movie and it keeps him occupied. I think he has seen every movie on there [she laughs]. I can use it too while he is sleeping. It’s great!”

The Inspiration Behind the Installation of LodgeNet at Batson

The development of any new technology requires people guided by the spirit of innovation. The subsequent adoption of that new technology takes people with vision who have an understanding of how the particular technology can help meet a need. In the case of LodgeNet and Batson Hospital for Children, it took a number of people and organizations to make it a reality. This alliance included members of the Friends of Children’s Hospital Board of Directors, key personnel at Batson to implement the vision, and the gracious financial support of esteemed charity organizations.

To outfit an entire children’s hospital with new technology like LodgeNet was no small undertaking. The vision was to place 32” flat screen, hospital-grade TV monitors in 125 patient rooms, as well as in 6th floor pre-op rooms, within certain clinic areas, and in the common area on the Behavioral Unit at Batson. On top of the costs associated with purchasing over a hundred new TVs, additional financial requirements were the hardware needed to support the LodgeNet system, the purchase of 137 LodgeNet licenses, along with monthly fees associated with system maintenance, monitoring, and upgrades.

Michelle Revord, Director of Pediatric Education Services, and a 20-year veteran of Batson Hospital for Children, has been heavily involved in implementing the system at Batson. She reflects: “The successful installation of LodgeNet at Batson Hospital for Children is truly an expression of teamwork; people coming together to make the lives of children and families better. LodgeNet has a lot of versatility and a number of features we are excited about expanding in the future. At present, there isn’t a lot of pediatric-focused content available, so we have created some of our own and are working closely with LodgeNet to develop new content that will benefit our patients and families.”

Michelle Revord

Michelle Revord, Director of Pediatric Education Services at Batson Hospital for Children, spearheaded the team that implemented the installation of the LodgeNet system. When asked to consider some of the many benefits of LodgeNet, she states: "The features, benefits, and potential expansion of applications of LodgeNet in the future are astounding. We look forward to continuing to extend its content. But, the real benefit is with the children. I have heard it said before that kids who are normal want to be treated special. Kids who are sick just want to be treated normal. LodgeNet really helps our sick children here at Batson feel normal. It helps alleviate some of the stress of situations where there may be tension and fear."

The original idea for installing LodgeNet arose with key members of the Friends of Children’s Hospital Board. Dr. Bob Abney, Hunter Hatten, and Reed Nelson all felt the old system at Batson was unacceptable, which included out-dated, old model televisions, standard cable, and VCRs that would have to be rented out from the hospital’s Child Life activity room. The Board members saw a need, did the necessary research on a replacement system, and then made a strong case for upgrading the hospital to LodgeNet.

Revord adds, “The three of them [Abney, Hatten, and Nelson] did a lot of the groundwork, and I’ve really enjoyed spearheading the team involved in implementing this, but none of this would ever have happened if it weren’t for the gracious support of Friends of Children’s Hospital, Century Club Charities, and the Viking Classic.”

The Viking Classic: Helping Children One Swing at a Time

Century Club Charities is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit charity consisting of more than 160 businessmen and women in Mississippi, dedicated to promoting the game of golf for the benefit of local charities. Since 1986, Century Club Charities has generated more than $6.3 million for charities, including their primary charity – Friends of Children’s Hospital. A significant amount of the fundraising Century Club Charities achieves is through their signature sporting event – the Viking Classic Golf Tournament, part of the PGA Tour.

Although bearing different names over the years, depending upon the specific title sponsor, the popular golf tournament is in its 44th year. Randy Watkins, a member of the Century Club Charities Board and Tournament Director for the Viking Classic, has been part of the tournament’s magic for the last six years.

“The proud history of this tournament goes all the way back to 1968. In 2007, when Viking took over as title sponsor, the board of Century Club Charities vowed with Viking to make a significant difference in the lives of Mississippi children. One of the beauties of golf, and being part of the PGA Tour, is the PGA Tour raises more money each year for charities than Major League Baseball, the NFL, and NBA Basketball combined. The Viking Classic is the only major league, professional sporting event in the state of Mississippi, and being part of the PGA Tour means it is part of the greatest charity-raising sports organization in the world. Combined, the PGA Tour has raised well over a billion dollars through PGA tournaments alone; and, the real distinction is that each community that has the privilege of sponsoring a PGA Tour event sees that money stay in their community for charity. That is not the case in many major sports leagues.”

Randy Watkins

Randy Watkins, member of the Century Club Charities Board of Directors and Director of the Viking Classic Golf Tournament.

When asked to reflect about the LodgeNet system, Watkins adds: “We take a lot of pride in the LodgeNet system. Century Club Charities and the Viking Classic wanted to contribute to something specific that the hospital needed. We saw the obvious benefit LodgeNet would bring to the kids, and we quickly signed on. There’s a lot of potential for the system to speak directly to children. Imagine a 9-year old on the screen speaking directly to a 9-year old patient, helping to ease anxiety about a treatment. That’s amazing.”

The next Viking Classic will take place July 11 through 15, 2011 at the Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Mississippi. For more information: http://www.vikingclassic.com