Cars and Cartoons: A kid-friendly approach to surgery

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Five year old J.D. was all smiles, cheerfully waving good-bye to his mom, Franne and grandfather, “Pappa” as the nurse wheeled him down the hall for his surgery at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH). But instead of being placed on a stretcher or in a wheelchair J.D. was in the driver’s seat, literally!

Like many of the other paediatric surgeries taking place that day, J.D was happily preoccupied steering his push-car right into the Operating Room, where he watched his favourite cartoon on the big screen as he was tended to by the anesthesiologist.

Open house shines a spotlight on the Stollery

Push-cars, stickers and cartoons are just some of the new tools being used by the surgical team at OTMH to enhance surgical experience for paediatric patients and their families,

“We wanted to look at the patient’s surgical experience through the eyes of the child and do little things to enhance our welcoming environment. Using the cars has made the transition of the children from their parents to the operating rooms a fun adventure,” explained Dr. Aimee Mabini, Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist, Halton Healthcare. “The push-cars that we are using to bring the children into the Operating Rooms have been a great addition! They engage and distract the children. In addition to being a novelty for the children they also help reduce the stress on parents and caregivers before their child’s surgery,” said Dr Mabini, “Once the children are in the operating room and the surgical team is preparing the child we offer a variety of cartoons from Pokémon to SpongeBob on the large surgical screens – the children just love it.”

From a parent and caregiver perspective, it is these human touches that make a difference to the patient experience, “What an amazing kid friendly idea! J.D. was so distracted by the car and had fun. Knowing that he was going into the operating room relaxed and happy meant a lot to me and eased my anxiety,” noted Franne.

“The cars and cartoons program has been really well received not just by the children and their families but by our staff and medical staff as well,” concludes Julie McBrien, Surgical Program Director, Halton Healthcare. “It’s hard not to smile as you see your next patient steer themselves into the operating room with a grin on their face that goes ear to ear!”