All good parents want their children to live happy and healthy lives. But for parents of sick kids, particularly those with chronic and congenital health conditions, that's a much more difficult goal to achieve.
Unsurprisingly, anxiety is ever-present in both these parents and kids' lives.
As a mother of two children with congenital health conditions, I know first-hand how scary it can be when you’re worried and trying to process the “what if” or expected eventuality of surgery.
We also often worry about what it will mean when our children are old enough to process the risks of surgery. It’s difficult for any parent to see their child fearful or in a state of discomfort.
And surgery is much harder to explain to a child than small medical procedures like shots — the stakes are higher and the unknowns can make the process even more terrifying, especially for young kids.
In California, one hospital is doing what they can to make the idea of surgery less daunting by allowing kids to drive mini cars into the operating room.
At Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, California, they know that fun can be a great distraction from anxiety.
The innovative solution to reducing kids' discomfort came from pre-op nurse Kimberly Martinez after she read about the long-term impact cars have on young kids. To put her plan into action, they let kids choose between a mini pink Volkswagen Beetle and a Black Mercedes.
So far, the results have been awesome (and adorable).
“When the children find out they can go into the operating room riding in a cool little car, they light up, and in most cases, their fears melt away,” the hospital wrote in a statement to PEOPLE. “In addition, when parents see their children put at ease, it puts them at ease as well.”
Once the video started to go viral, folks in the social media world expressed their gratefulness for the opportunity to see something so positive vrooming down their timelines.
Doctors Medical Center is far from the only medical facility taking steps to reduce children's anxiety. A number of resources are dedicated to helping children headed to surgery, as well as their parents, however, sometimes adding a reading list to an already addled family isn't a practical solution.
Many of these parents are so busy and stressed they simply can't make the time to do socio-emotional research on reducing anxiety on top of learning about their children's health conditions.
Innovative programs like that at Doctors Medical Center take one more thing off parent's plates and make what can be a tense experience go more smoothly for everyone.
Other hospitals are catching on, too. It's why Sheffield Children’s Hospital offers it's kid patients their own sweet ride into surgery.
The more medical facilities that utilize creative solutions like this to easy young patients and their families' anxieties the better. Here's hoping we see many more fun, innovative ideas sprouting up in hospitals all over the country.