Young Crowborough patient names hospital robot

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A young cancer patient from Crowborough has named a robot, which is helping to keep the floors clean at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. The robots also interact with people, telling jokes and singing.

Eight-year-old cancer patient Mabel Baillieux with “Penny” the robot and Assistant General Manager for Facilities Sarah Gray.

Eight-year-old Mabel Baillieux, Mabel, a Year 4 pupil at Ashdown Primary School, picked the name Penny out of a bag during a naming ceremony yesterday (25th August).

The youngster is a regular patient on the Hedgehog Ward as she is currently receiving treatment for leukaemia.

I was really pleased to be asked to name the robot Penny. Her jokes are quite bad but that’s what makes her funny.

I think the other children will like seeing her too when she visits the ward.

Mabel Baillieux

There is a second robot at Maidstone Hospital, which was named Matilda by four-year-old Caleb, who has cerebral palsy and is being cared for by the Trust’s paediatric team.

Sarah Gray, Assistant General Manager for Facilities, was instrumental in bringing the interactive robots to the Trust:

The best bit about the robots is that they can interact with people. They can say ‘Excuse me, you’re in my way’ and people can also press the centre button on the front of the robot for further interaction. They can even tell jokes, nursery rhymes and sing! We think they’ll be a great hit with the children and young people who use our paediatric services and hopefully they’ll help to put a smile on their faces.

On a more serious note, the robots have been brought in to support our cleaners. They currently spend a lot of time mopping large floor spaces in the main reception areas and the corridors of both hospitals on a regular basis during the winter months, but the robots will help to free them up so they can carry out vital touch point cleaning around the two sites which is essential during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the robots use 70% less water than other floor machinery it means the floors will dry quicker, making them safer for patients, visitors, staff and guests. They’re also programmed to stop if people or objects get in their way.

The robots will work in the main corridors at night time. They will also be visible in the main entrances and corridors throughout the winter months cleaning the floor areas.

The names chosen by the children will be placed on the front of each of the robots so visitors and patients can see what they are called when they are out and about and hard at work.

Sarah Gray, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
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