Lakeland VR program honored by ACS

Barbara Schmidtman, director of oncology services for Spectrum Health Lakeland, at left, and Brendon Beede, information security project manager for Lakeland, at right, stand with their awards and University of Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Spectrum Health Lakeland employees Barbara Schmidtman, director of oncology services, and Brendon Beede, information security project manager, were recently honored with the Innovation Award by the American Cancer Society at the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Night of the Stars.

Beede and Schmidtman launched a virtual reality program at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center in January. Through an interactive computer-generated simulation, patients receiving chemotherapy and other infusion services are exposed to a variety of experiences while helping relieve some of the stress of their situation.

“Their work with VR has certainly had a positive impact on the oncology patient population at Spectrum Health Lakeland. We applaud their innovative efforts to help ease the burden of fighting cancer,” Jessica McCrea, development manager for the American Cancer Society, said in a news release.

“The first time I put on the VR headset I quickly realized how much of a benefit this would have for our patients,” Schmidtman said. “In addition to the success of the program we’ve seen at Lakeland, we are pleased to have developed a clinical study to assess patient anxiety levels in hopes that this technology will help patients in other communities as well.”

Coaches vs. Cancer, in collaboration with the National Association of Basketball Coaches, has united coaches and fans nationwide to help the American Cancer Society defeat cancer. Through fundraising and education initiatives, the Coaches vs. Cancer program has supported the ACS in improving and saving lives from cancer worldwide.

Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey has been a long-time supporter of Coaches vs. Cancer, raising more than $3.3 million to date for the ACS.