Press Release - 2021
Team44 gaming systems go live in Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Hematology & Oncology inpatient rooms
After piloting ten inpatient rooms in 2019, Lurie Children’s and Team44 Pediatric Cancer Foundation announced that all 48 pediatric hematology & oncology inpatient rooms had been equipped with Team44’s gaming system. Team44’s gaming systems provide patients with a way to escape by connecting with their home life while in the hospital. Thanks to the generous support of Team44 donors, all 48 rooms at Lurie Children’s have been equipped with an Xbox gaming unit, games, and online access.
“Through the generous donation of Team 44, patient on the 17th floor now has the chance to engage in distraction through a video game or connect with their peers through online gaming and take their focus away from their hospitalization. Every moment the patient can focus on something that is a bit normal or takes their mind away from their illness allowing their body to relax. During these times, the patients may perceive less pain or anxiety about an upcoming procedure and contribute positively to their healing. We are incredibly grateful to the partnership of Team 44 and look forward to our ongoing work together.” – Rebecca Meyers, Children’s Services Manager, commented.
Luke van Heukelum (age 15), Team44’s founder, is a fan of gaming and a big supporter of Lurie Children’s, commented ‘We couldn’t be more excited with the installation of Team44’s gaming systems in all pediatric cancer inpatient rooms at Lurie Children’s. From my own experience when I was at Lurie Children’s, something that helped me was playing games on my portable Xbox with my headset and microphone, so I could talk to my friends and forget that I was in the hospital altogether. Many of the other kids in the hospital have cancer and have to stay a lot longer than me, and they don’t have anything to help them stay connected with their friends. I hope the Team44 gaming systems provide the same connectivity and distraction for other patients that they did for me. I am very thankful for all the support of Lurie Children’s and our donors to make this happen.’
A school-aged child was recently admitted to the 17th floor with an oncology diagnosis. The child missed playing video games with their siblings at home, but when the patient learned that they could play Minecraft on the Xbox in their room AND play with their siblings, it brought the biggest smile to the child’s face! Playing video games with their siblings also eased the parent’s stress related to the new diagnosis and stressful admission.
A preschool-age child is admitted monthly for chemotherapy and has a history of many coping challenges with the medical experience and environment. The mother always brings the patient’s DVDs; in the past, the Lurie Children’s team would provide a mini DVD player to play them on. Now that they have an Xbox in the room, the child can watch the movies much easier and on a much larger screen!
A patient and Mom were recently admitted for their third admission, but this admission is the first time with an Xbox in the room. When they noticed the Xbox sitting in the room, Mom and the patient were super excited, saying, “This is going to be so fun!” Not only have they loved all the games, but having an online option was outstanding as they could play with the patient’s brother at home. Mom said it has been "really beneficial from a social aspect.” They also shared that having options for Netflix, Disney+, and other streaming services is "a game changer," as they’ve watched everything the hospital provides during two previous admissions.
Nursing and Staff Testimonials
“The impact that the Xbox’s in the rooms is having on patients of all ages, including their caregivers and siblings, is wonderful and huge.”
- Sara Stewart, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant Child Life Specialist
“From a nursing perspective, whenever I bring up the possibility of using the Xbox for gaming and to watch Netflix or download Disney+, all patients and parents are excited. For parents and their young kids, it gives them a break from using a tablet or allows them to have normal family time while in the hospital. I’ve had parents share they are extremely grateful for the ability to use the Xboxes. While their child is also over the moon to either play Fortnight or watch something. When it comes to our patients that are a little bit older, once they hear they have more options than what is programmed on our in-house TV network, they’re ecstatic. Keeping somewhat of a norm from their homes while with us is immense 😊.”
-Steven Gauthier, Nurse
About Lurie Children’s Hospital
In the 2020-2021 U.S.News & World Report rankings of the best children’s hospitals, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is the top pediatric hospital in Illinois, ranked in all ten specialties. Lurie Children’s provides superior pediatric care in a state-of-the-art hospital offering the latest medical technology benefits and innovations, family-friendly design, and research through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The main hospital is located in downtown Chicago on the campus of its academic partner, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Lurie Children’s has a network of 15 outpatient centers and 15 partner hospitals, providing top pediatric care across the greater Chicago area. As a nonprofit hospital, Lurie Children’s relies on philanthropic support to care for more than 220,000 children annually. Learn more at luriechildrens.org.
Team44 is a pediatric cancer foundation that Luke van Heukelum founded. At 13 years old, Luke found himself in the hospital with a possible diagnosis of Lymphoma. He was fortunate to be cleared of cancer after four days. During this time at Children's Hospital in Chicago, he found an escape and distraction by playing on his portable XBOX. It allowed him to connect with his friends back home, play games and talk about what was happening to him. Medical staff often commented on the benefits of escape and connectivity and encouraged him to keep playing during procedures and check-ups. Luke's stay and experience inspired the launch of Team44. What started as a small idea of donating several Xboxes to the Oncology department of Children's Hospital has evolved into a vision of providing pediatric cancer patients a way to escape by connecting with their home life during their time in the hospital. The name Team44 is based on the concept of connectivity and the power of the team. Luke is an avid soccer player. A sport that is based on the concept of a team. He wears number 44. To learn more about Team44, get engaged in our activities, or to donate, please visit www.team44.org