As adults, we all understand that hospitals suck. You’re there for serious reasons, none of them particularly pleasant. But imagine how terrifying they can be for young children. They’re in a strange and wildly scary place and they may have to leave the comfort and safety of their parent’s arms depending on the situation. Any sort of procedure becomes a daunting prospect. The staff at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama, however, have a way of easing children into operating rooms; a John Deere.
The Pediatrics’ staff have one mission, to make sure children are healthy and happy and that includes feeling at ease before any operation. The nurses and doctors found that children became apprehensive heading into the surgical suite. Speaking with WHNT News, Michelle Barksdale, a child life specialist, said, “There are some kids that are really, really scared and don't even want to come in the door, stand on the scale, put on a bracelet.” Can you blame them?
The Peg Perego John Deere toy, then, acts as a fun transition from the safety of their parents to the unknown of the operating room. According to WHNT News, ahead of surgery, the child receives their very own driver’s license and the keys to the pint-sized John Deere Gator. "[The John Deere] is a transition piece from parents who they know, where they're safe, to people who they don't know in scrubs,” says Barksdale. Amanda Rochowiak, who works as a pre-op coordinator, added, “It makes it easier on that transition for the parent as well as the child. Because they know the child is not scared, they're not crying, they're not leaving them in a fearful state.”
Huntsville Hospital isn’t alone in letting its youngest patients take a turn behind the wheel before surgery either. At Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California, the Pediatric department received a fleet of Power Wheels that were donated by the San Diego Police Department. Included in the fleet is a BMW i8 and Lamborghini Gallardo. Dr. Daniela Carvalho said, “Just the fact that we have these cars and we’re able to help our children and their families in the operating room just relax a little bit more and actually have fun when they go into the operating room, it’s just tremendous.”
Two other hospitals, Oklahoma’s Integris Children’s Hospital and Oishei’s Children’s Hospital in New York, also have similar Power Wheels fleets, which include a Ford Mustang and MINI Cooper. And given the smiles and success of this operating room delivery method, as evidenced by the remarkable doctors and nurses’ testimony, we’re confident these cars will catch on with other children’s hospitals in the very near future.