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Doernbecher and Intel Partner To Ensure Young Cancer Patients Stay Connected With Family and Supporters

Grant from the Intel enables Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to purchase 12 state-of-the-art bedside computers for pediatric inpatients and their families.
Children battling cancer and their families often spend weeks, sometimes months, undergoing treatment at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. And although Doernbecher staff work tirelessly to make each family’s stay as comfortable as possible, the psychological and emotional impact of such a dramatic change in lifestyle can be as debilitating as the cancer treatment itself.

That’s why since fall 2000, Doernbecher staff have been working with community partners like Intel to provide inpatients and families with a visual and audio connection to the rest of their family at home, friends in the neighborhood, and their teachers and classmates at school.

“Helping families stay close is a rewarding and inspiring use of technology,” said Aubrey Clark, a member of Intel Oregon’s Community Relations Team who was instrumental in linking Intel with Doernbecher. “Intel is so pleased we are able to make a difference in the lives of these children.”

Families say Intel’s grant has a monumental impact on their ability to tolerate prolonged separation.

“I wouldn’t be able to handle it without the computer,” said Sky Pepiot, mother of Doernbecher patient Summer Pepiot, 10. Summer is receiving treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. Her treatment requires that she spend 30 days at a time at Doernbecher. She’s been home to Salem just twice since her August 2007 diagnosis.

“We use the computer to communicate with my husband who is at home and working, and we use it to update Summer’s Caring Bridge page. It’s a great way for us stay in touch with friends and family - we can give updates to all without having to be on the phone for hours. We really enjoy all the great computer programs, especially Photobooth. We have a lot of fun getting all the staff and nurses’ pictures taken,” Sky Pepiot said.

“My wife, Vikki, and I use this computer several times a day,” said Steve Jensen, father of Doernbecher patient Luke Jensen, 6, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia this past October and is near the end of his second round of chemotherapy.

“We use it now more than we ever did at home. My wife updates our Caring Bridge Web page daily, and we check on other families and children we’ve met here at Doernbecher and online. People who know us follow Luke’s progress online every day - we communicate back and forth. Having computer access like this in Luke’s room is incredible; it’s amazing.”

Steve Jensen is the principal at King’s Way Christian School in Vancouver, Wash. He’s taken a leave of absence to be by Luke’s side and help care for his other children: Jake, 9, and Tori, 4. Steve says he regularly checks his work e-mail to keep up to date on what’s going on at King’s Way Christian, but when we spoke, he and his family were relaxing, watching a movie on the new computer.

Recently, Luke was able to use the Webcam function to interact with his first-grade classmates at King’s Christian. “When Luke’s not too sick, we hope to join in, unobtrusively, so Luke can see what’s happening in class,” Steve Jensen said.

“Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is fortunate enough to have Intel Corporation as a neighbor and partner,” said Susie Bacon, the director of Doernbecher Family Services who helped apply for the grant. “Intel has the unique ability to directly provide the specific hardware, software and technical expertise needed to provide innovative solutions to the challenges facing children with cancer and their families.”

Presently, the Doernbecher Family Computer program has 37 inpatient computers, and four staff and outpatient computers, which are used for Internet access; communication between school-aged patients and their teachers, fellow classmates; video conferencing; and person-to-person communication and games. Doernbecher also provides eight take-home units that connect patients with classrooms and family members long distance. There are eight computers in hallway alcoves on its non-cancer inpatient floor, on its outpatient clinic floor and in other high-traffic patient-family areas.

Brian Gilman, Doernbecher Family Computer Web specialist, would eventually like to acquire: donated laptops of recent vintage that could be checked out to patients requiring isolation in Doernbecher’s Pediatric Acute Care Center. He’s also like to place two family computers in the Doernbecher Neonatal Care Center, and two more in Doernbecher’s non-cancer inpatients. Eventually, he’d like to install bedside computers in every room of the Doernbecher Pediatric Intensive Care Unit – 20 computers.

“Intel’s generous donation goes a long way to help us reach our goal of providing computer access for all our patients and families. We want to make life as normal as possible for these families, and grants like these are what make it happen. We’re very grateful,” Gilman said.

Since 2000, contributors to the Doernbecher Family Computer program have included: the Intel Foundation, the Eva Grove Foundation, the Doernbecher Foundation, Qwest, Verizon, Altiris eXpress, Grapevine Design, ICW International, Xerox Corporation and Cisco and Portland Public Schools.

Oregon is home to Intel’s largest and most comprehensive site, a global center for research and development and manufacturing working for a sustainable future. More information is available at Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Additional information about Intel is available at and

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, a division of Oregon Health & Science University, is a world-class academic health center that each year cares for more than 56,000 patients from across the United States. In the most patient- and family-centered environment, children receive outstanding cancer treatment, specialized neurology care, highly sophisticated heart surgery, and care in many other pediatric specialties. In addition to several locations in the Portland metropolitan area, Doernbecher’s pediatric experts travel throughout Oregon and southwest Washington providing pediatric specialty care at 13 outreach clinics. For more information, visit


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