Pepper the robot to join county healthcare facility staff this spring

Pictured is Pepper the robot. Photo courtesy of Antoine Doyen.

TJ Thompson | Contributing Writer

DAYTON – Intellectual disabilities are something that affects millions of people all over the world. Here in Dayton, a home for these individuals is implementing something a little out of the ordinary to better the lives of its residents. 

Meet Pepper the robot. 

Pepper is “designed for people. Built to connect with them, assist them, and share knowledge with them,” According to SoftBank Robotics. Pepper was introduced to the Stillwater Center in January 2024, but will not be fully operational until early this spring. 

In 2003, the Stillwater Center was moved into a new facility to provide better and more advanced care to its residents and 20 years later care is being advanced at the center through Pepper. 

In an article posted to the Montgomery County website in January, center Director Dr. Michelle Pierce said, “We serve a diverse population, with residents aged 18 months to 85. As a top intermediate care facility, families all over the world seek our services.”

Pepper is not only helping Stillwater residents, it is also helping staff. Pepper can organize and bring staffers care plans and other documents, which makes their job easier so they can put more care and attention toward residents to make sure they create the best atmosphere for them to thrive. 

Pepper’s price tag is $44,000 but with the help from the Board of County Commissioners, and a donation from the Caring Hearts Foundation, the robot was purchased for the Stillwater Center. Leslie Kahn-Snow, Caring Hearts founder, has a special connection with Stillwater. She completed her nursing clinical rotation there three decades ago, according to an article on the county website. In the article, Kahn-Snow said, “Stillwater has always held a special place in my heart.”

Pepper is the future of healthcare. There are many hospitals all over the country that have their own Pepper. With the rise of AI and other forms of advanced technology, it won’t be long before entire hospitals are run with the support of robots. The Stillwater Center is getting ahead of the game to ensure its residents have the best care they can receive. 

Montgomery County is trying to make sure it stays on the front lines of technology. In the same article on the county website, Commissioner Judy Dodge said, “Montgomery County is proud to support cutting-edge technology that enhances the lives of our citizens.” 

This is exactly what Stillwater is doing with Pepper — enhancing the lives of citizens. 

Pepper is not only helping the guests with their medical needs. It also helps residents to have a good time. Pepper can wave, dance, and sing, according to the county, and it can also read to residents lightening the mood and making sure they are always having a good time when situations can sometimes get hard. 

Commissioner Carolyn Rice represented the board during a private unboxing at Stillwater, according to the county website.

“This is visionary,” she said for the article. “This is the future of healthcare so of course we would want to support this. We’re going to blaze a path that others will follow so today is an extremely exciting day for Stillwater and for Montgomery County.”

Attempts to reach Dr. Pierce and Commissioners Dodge and Rice for further comments were unsuccessful.

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