Kids headed into the operating room at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll just got a new set of wheels…Power Wheels. Children between the ages of one to eight are given the choice between a Jeep or Ferrari. From there the battery-powered, kid-sized vehicles take the child on a sweet ride down the hallway before their surgical procedure (via remote control in the hands of nurses and anesthetists).
The cars have working headlights, backup lights, and dash lights. The doors open and close, and the seatbelts perform their function, even on the littlest drivers. Best of all, the horn honks, and the children can even play music from the mini stereo!
The idea to add these special cars to the surgery unit came by way of Dawn Bonham, RN, St. Anthony Surgery Unit Director, who saw this fun way to interact with child surgery patients in California.
“We've seen the anxiety on the faces of our young patients, many of whom have never been inside a hospital or surgery unit in their entire lives,” Bonham said. “When scared kids find out they can go to the operating room riding in a cool, little car, they light up and their fears melt away.”
On the inaugural run, it was noted that when the parents saw their children at ease, it put the parents at ease as well. According to kidshealth.org, preparing kids for surgical procedures by providing information and explanations can help them feel less anxious about anesthesia and surgery. The car truly helped everyone involved.
“Tell your kids about their procedure at their level of understanding,” said Ed Cutler, CRNA, St. Anthony Anesthesia Director. “Help them to understand why surgery is needed and above all, stay as calm and matter of fact as possible. And if that doesn't work, taking a ride in a sweet little car will sure help.”
If mom and dad are anxious, kids will pick that up and feel anxious too. The kid's surgery car will be another helpful tool for young patients and their families in west central Iowa to overcome their nervous feelings before surgery, and most of all, create good memories for the patients.
“This a great idea generated by our staff,” said Ed Smith, St. Anthony President and CEO. “We are grateful to the donor who provided the funds to purchase these vehicles for our kids. It's wonderful to be the recipient of the kindness of good-hearted people.”