This California hospital’s digital wilderness is putting nervous kids at ease

Children and a woman view Loma Linda University Childrens Hospital experience the interactive Loma Land exhibit

For some kids, few things are as nerve-racking as an upcoming hospital visit. The blank white walls, labyrinthian hallways and conversations with unfamiliar grownups can feel intimidating and uncomfortable. But Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in California seeks to soothe these young patients with a little bit of imagination known as Loma Land.

Loma Land is a unique interactive experience designed to calm children who feel anxious visiting the doctor, with an animated forest set on a 60-foot-wide, interactive display wall. The experience is centered around vibrant, 3D graphic animals. Children entering the hospital can use a touchscreen to create colorful avatar animals that accompany them down the corridor toward their patient rooms and procedures. And when they’re finished with their appointment, they see their digital animal among the trees as they exit Loma Land. The animals are as unique as the patients themselves: rainbow-colored raccoons, plaid bears, deer wearing sunglasses – even a rabbit with a hat made from a lily pad.

As the San Bernadino region’s main Level 1 trauma center, Loma Linda handles some of the most serious medical cases. And that is what helped inspire the creation of the Loma Land installation, where 300 animals are now created each day.

“We have a population that is coming to us at very stressful times in their lives,” said Rachelle Bussell, senior vice president of advancement for Loma Linda University Health, which runs the hospital. “We believe that whole person care really makes a difference in healing.”