Bingo brings joy to patients at Lurie Children's Hospital

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - This Thanksgiving, there were hundreds of kids at Lurie Children's Hospital who didn't feast with family and friends.

There is something at Lurie that could be more popular than turkey and stuffing. It’s a live TV show on an award winning TV station that for some is a life saver.

Kevin Persaud, 11, is on the tail end of a 29 day stay at Lurie

"A little hectic," Kevin said.

Hectic, but the 6th grader is like a man of steel and he's earned the courage beads to prove it.

"The white ones are chemo. The brown ones are lumbar punctures,” he said.

Kevin loves his beads, and he also loves one of the most popular live TV shows you have probably never seen. It’s called Hospital Bingo.

"I’m your host, they call me Uncle Matt.”

Uncle Matt hosts an hour of Hospital Bingo, broadcasting live to over 200 patient rooms via the hospital's closed circuit station, Skylight TV. The kids love him.

Winners get to pick their  prize, and if they are not among the live studio audience, they just call Uncle Matt from their room.

"Hello, we have a caller on the line, who is this?"

And at Lurie, Hospital Bingo is king.

"You don't mess with anyone on the floors from 3 to 4 on Tuesdays when bingo is happening." said Director of Children's Services Susan Ruohonen.

But bingo is just one of four flagship shows produced in-house at Lurie. The purpose is to provide distraction, entertainment and fun to kids and their families.

"Above all, we want to bring a lot of smiles when they are here," Ruohonen said.

There’s nothing high-tech about bingo, but the network that puts Skylight TV into all of those rooms is. It’s called the 'GetWellNetwork', which is accessible in rooms and on some mobile devices. It’s designed to be an interactive, one stop shop for all things that families need access too during their stay at Lurie.

"Whether it's learning about their disease or watching a great show like Hospital Bingo, learning about medications, all of those things are made available bedside," said Manager for Patient Community Education Suma Rao-Rupta.

The GetWellNetwork and Skylight TV have made Kevin’s long stays at Lurie a little more pleasant.

"Yesterday I won this," Kevin said.

It’s also given him a pile of goodies, because well, Kevin is a pro.

FOX 32: Do you have a secret strategy?

“Play several different sheets at once," he said. "You win almost every time."

And Kevin’s biggest win this week, he went home to Rockford for Thanksgiving!

The GetWellNetwork is in its third year at Lurie. Skylight TV has been going strong for 19 years!

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