TAMPA, Fla., Dec. 15, 2017 — Patients at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa had a direct link from their hospital room to Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the North Pole on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, thanks to Santa's helpers from the Bay Area Emergency Amateur Radio Service (BEARS) and the hospital's Child Life team.
Three-year-old Leah Torres wasn't sure how to react to the sound of Santa's voice crackling through the hand-held radio, but her shy smile turned into loud giggles when she heard him say her name and that he knew she wanted a mermaid for Christmas.
Eight-year-old Mylah Dixson gasped in delight when Santa asked if Sylah, her favorite doll, was there with her. “Wow, he knows! He knows everything! He even knows my baby doll's name that I carry everywhere,” said Mylah.
For the past nine years, volunteers with BEARS along with St. Joseph's Hospitals Facility Technician and BEARS Coordinator Christopher Perry have turned their amateur radio station housed in the hospital's emergency communications center into the “Santa Net Control Center.” When not being used to connect patients to the North Pole, BEARS operates as a community based emergency response station under the call sign W4TCH.
“You just can't help but smile when you hear the pure joy these kids have in talking to Santa,” said Perry. “They're usually surprised that he's thinking of them while they're in the hospital and reassured that he knows where to leave their presents on Christmas Eve.”
The BEARS volunteers and Child Life team coordinate the annual event to ensure that children get the opportunity to participate in holiday traditions despite being in the hospital, including a visit with Santa Claus.
“It also gives the kids a chance to explore the fascinating world of amateur radio as they connect with the North Pole,” adds Perry.
To see more photos from the event, visit St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's Facebook page – Facebook.com/StJosephsChildrens.
About St. Joseph's Children's Hospital
As Tampa's only dedicated children's hospital, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital is committed to providing everything needed for the health and well-being of children. Part of the BayCare Health System, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital provides more acute medical and surgical pediatric care than all other hospitals in Hillsborough County. From the tiniest baby to the high school quarterback, patients are cared for by doctors who specialize in treating children, in surroundings designed exclusively for kids.
About BayCare Health System
BayCare is a leading not-for-profit health care system that connects individuals and families to a wide range of services at 14 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout the Tampa Bay and central Florida regions. Inpatient and outpatient services include acute care, primary care, imaging, laboratory, behavioral health, home care, and wellness. Our mission is to improve the health of all we serve through community-owned, health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. For more information, visit www.baycare.org.
SOURCE St. Joseph's Children's Hospital
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