Sep. 19, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan
Several celebrities and hospital staff joined young patients and their parents for a ribbon-cutting ceremony that unveiled Seacrest Studios – a 1,500-square-foot state-of-the-art multimedia broadcast studio designed to educate and entertain patients to facilitate a better quality of life.
“These patients are missing important things in their lives – their friends, their birthdays and proms. To have something to look forward to and a place to go and connect helps with the healing,” Ryan Seacrest told QNS. “Laughter is great medicine too. When you see a patient laughing or realizing they’ve got a special talent, I think that helps.”
The foundation has been opening similar studios in pediatric hospitals in major cities across the country since 2011. Cohen Children’s Medical Center at Long Island Jewish Medical Center is the 13th location — and the first in New York.
Previously, that section of the atrium held out-patient exam rooms and was utilized as a vaccination site during the pandemic. Now it will serve as a space for adolescent patients to develop media skills by producing their own shows or learn to play an instrument as a form of music therapy. Future programming will also include visits from celebrities and special guests.
The content produced in the studio will also broadcast on screens across the entire hospital, including patient rooms. This allows patients who may not be mobile enough to make it down to the studio to stay engaged. The studio will also have full time staff to run operations and always ensure that some of programming is available at all times.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony and subsequent confetti, the studio went live for the first time with a program hosted by Seacrest himself. He was first joined by singer-songwriter Stephen Sanchez, who is best known for his viral song “Until I Found You” which has racked up over 668 million streams just on Spotify.
“I would do this every week. I want to do this every week,” said Sanchez, who sang several songs from the studio as staff members, patients and families tuned in from the nearest screen.
Other celebrities who joined the studio session included WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair, who says she has been visiting Seacrest Studios while on tour for years now and actress Madelyn Cline who held roles on “Outer Banks” and “Glass Onion.”
Since the first Seacrest Studio opened in Atlanta in 2011, the foundation has fine tuned their programming to maximize the fun and passion they can offer patients. But creating a sense of escapism from the medical struggles the young patients are experiencing is also a big part of the goal.
“We’ve really discovered what makes a difference and moves the needle in terms of having patients hopefully for a little bit, forget about what they’re going through,” said Seacrest.
Seacrest recalled a parent confiding that prior to discovering the studio, their child would dread the regular hospital visits. But he began to look forward to the appointments so that he could spend time with the friends he made during his visits to the studio. In his speech he also spoke about a hospitalized patient who was too shy to come down to the studio in a Dallas hospital, so instead she was able to create an avatar that participated in the programming and experienced an improved sense of well-being.
“We feel it’s really therapeutic and really important to their betterment and getting out of the hospital more quickly,” Dr. Charles Schleien, senior vice president of Cohen Children’s Medical Center & Pediatric Services, told QNS.
The hospital applied to be selected to house the studio – and according to Seacrest, his family is “very strategic” about which site is selected. Ultimately Cohen Children’s Medical Center was selected because it had the right amount of space and, more importantly, a supportive community within the hospital and in the broader area. The overall process from the application to grand unveiling took several years.
Current and former patients who attended the unveiling were invited to sit in the studio during the live stream and also received toys, snacks and a chance to customize their own beanies. Hospital staff held up lettered signs in the windows from the atrium’s second floor that spelled out “Welcome Seacrest Studios” following the ribbon cutting.
“We are very grateful to the Ryan Seacrest Foundation for giving us another opportunity to provide the best experience possible for our patients,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell. “This is an exciting opportunity for all of us to help some of our youngest patients learn and explore the art of broadcast media while receiving treatment for an injury or illness and, more importantly, maybe take the experience home with them after they recover to do even bigger things.”