California hospital lets children drive minicars into surgery to reduce stress

Courtesy: Doctors Medical Center

A hospital in California is helping ease their young patients' anxiety by letting them drive a minicar into the operating room.

Instead of lying on a gurney, Doctors Medical Center in Modesto is offering young pediatric patients two alternative rides to the OR: a little black Mercedes-Benz or a pink VW Bettle the kids can drive themselves.

"When they 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," hospital spokeswoman Krista Deans told KTVU.

If the kids can't or don't want to drive themselves, the mini convertible can be operated by remote control. The cars are intended for children ages 2 to 7 years old.

The idea to bring the car onto the hospital "lot" came from a registered nurse in pre-op, Kimberly Martinez, who wanted to find a way to reduce the stress and anxiety among pediatric patients headed to surgery.

"She did some research and found the benefits of these cars having a lasting impact on young patients," Deans said. 

The hospital started with one car late last year, and the idea proved to be so successful that they added a second car to give the children a choice in their vehicle. 

Distracting young patients facing an unknown, scary situation with a fun toy may seem like a simple way to help them with their stress, but it's clear the little luxury car is doing its job. 

"Having something to keep their mind off of heading into surgery is a good thing," Deans said.