Toledo Children’s Receives Virtual Visit From Santa

Santa and Patients Embrace Technology
4-year-old Gregory McGowan loves technology: Televisions, so that he can watch his favorite show, Thomas the Tank Engine. Tablets, that allow him to play the Angry Birds racing game. And computers, so that he can talk to Santa while he’s receiving care at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.

This was the second year that Gregory, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant, was able to connect with Santa Claus all the way in the North Pole.

With the help of Cisco Systems, Santa and Gregory corresponded through the Cisco Santa Connection, using one of the Cisco TelePresence mobile carts on Thursday, December 11. According to Cisco, more than 40 hospitals in North America are participating in the virtual Santa visits.


The experience means everything to families who can’t take their children to the mall to physically meet Santa, especially if they are sick or in the hospital.

“I think children’s hospitals, in particular, see some of the sickest patients in this area and it’s kind of nice to be able to bring joy to their hearts and a festive season,” said Anshul Pande, Chief Technology Officer at ProMedica.


Catching Up With Mr. Claus
Santa remembered Gregory from last year, asking him if he’s been good about eating and taking his enzymes, as well as cooperating with caregivers when receiving his respiratory vest treatments.

Though Gregory was a little shy, he nodded yes, and whispered something into his friend Shanan’s ear.


“Gregory wants to know why there are bells on your sleigh?” Shanan asked Santa.

Santa told Gregory that he always equips his sleigh and his belt with bells so that the reindeer don’t run off without him. The bells are great at grabbing the reindeers’ attention, especially when it gets dark on Christmas Eve.

According to various sources, including Santa, the boy’s mother, and staff at Toledo Children’s, Gregory has been very well behaved. He listened to Santa’s advice and has been eating extremely well lately. Gregory has also been very helpful around the hospital. Over the past two years, he helped decorate the hallway Christmas tree with Disney-inspired ornaments.


At the end of the video chat session, Santa asked Shanan to give Gregory a big hug for him. “I want to see you asleep in your own bed on Christmas this year!” Santa said encouragingly.


If all goes according to plan, Gregory will be home for Christmas, where Santa will drop off some requested Iron-Man themed gifts.