Children’s hospital lets its littlest patients ride toy cars into surgery to ease their fears

No matter how young or old you are, hospitals are a scary place. There’s a lot of machinery, noises, and people running about. Plus you can’t forget the procedures, surgeries, and treatments that can bring about an anxious feeling at just the thought of them.

Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children in Huntsville, Alabama wants to make sure its littlest patients feel at ease when they’re at the hospital because not only will it make them more comfortable, but by them being more relaxed it can make their treatment easier.

Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children has had a child life department for the past 20 years. The department’s job is to ensure that each patient is comfortable in the new setting.

It all begins in the waiting room.

The hospital’s waiting room, which has games, is far from your typical hospital waiting room.

Child life specialists are trained in child psychology and development and works with each child to make sure their individual needs are met.

“There are some kids that are excited to be here. 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,” Michelle Barksdale, a child life specialist, told WHNT. “We have all developmental ages and ranges of emotions.”

The fun continues even as children prepare for surgery.

While patients who are about to undergo surgery are typically wheeled into the operating room on a stretcher, children at the Huntsville hospital get a different ride. They get to drive into surgery in a toy car. They also get their own license!

“That car is a transition piece from parents who they know, where they’re safe, to people who they don’t know in scrubs,” said Barksdale.

“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,” Amanda Rochowiak, a pre-op coordinator, said.

This is such an awesome way to reduce a child’s possible fear when they are about to face a scary situation.

I wish more hospitals would do something similar.

Share this article if you would like to see other hospitals follow Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children and implement a similar program.