Huntsville Hospital lets children drive toy cars into surgery, goes beyond medical care
Huntsville Hospital is helping kids with much more than their medical needs.
WHNT on Wednesday reported, “Hospitals can be a scary place for anyone, but especially for kids. Huntsville Hospital has child life specialists whose sole job is to help the children there beyond their medical needs. Making a trip to the hospital, not only bearable but even fun.”
One of the favorite features for young patients at Huntsville Hospital is that children are allowed to drive toy cars right into surgery.
Additionally, the hospital waiting room has become more like a game room, with interactive games projected onto the floor for kids to play with while waiting.
“So this is kind of one of those things that keeps their mind off everything before they have to go back,” Haley Franks, a pediatric ER registered nurse, told WHNT. “Especially if they have any kind of procedures or anything they are able to kind of play out here in the lobby and have some fun while they’re waiting.”
This incredible child life department has been in Huntsville Hospital for over two decades.
“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, said. “We have all developmental ages and ranges of emotions.”
Specialists like Barksdale are trained in child psychology and development to know how to meet the needs of every individual child.
She said the needs of kids are very different than adults. She said a lot of kids are concrete thinkers they need to see what the surgery room will look like, not just be told.
Barksdale explained that the famous toy car rides even come complete with a unique driver’s license for each child.
“That car is a transition piece from parents who they know, where they’re safe, to people who they don’t know in scrubs,” she added.
For the pediatric staff at Huntsville Hospital, this is a labor of love for those kids. Not only are they working to heal them, the staff truly cares about making kids feel better, too.
“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.
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Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn