Calif. Hospital Reduces 'Stress and Anxiety' by Letting Kids Drive These Mini Cars to Surgery

Taking the cars for a spin helps the children be less nervous before heading to the operating room, the hospital says

A hospital has come up with an innovative way to ease young patients who are anxious before surgery: giving them miniature cars to drive to the operating room!

Staff at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, California, recently scored a miniature pink Volkswagen Beetle and a black Mercedes for their young patients heading into surgery — and now they can see the kids’ “stress and anxiety” disappear when the children get behind the wheels.

“These sweet rides take our smallest patients to the operating room,” the hospital says in a statement to PEOPLE. “The goal is to reduce anxiety and stress, and make the experience less scary for everyone involved.”

The idea was thought of by pre-op nurse Kimberly Martinez, who did research and found the cars have a lasting impact on young patients. So far, the unique approach has been a success, the hospital explains.

“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 says. “In addition, when parents see their children put at ease, it puts them at ease as well.”

A child, who is not a patient, testing out one of the cars.

While the hospital purchased the black Mercedes car, the pink Beetle was donated by an employee and her family. The one-seater cars are both equipped with a stereo and a collection of preloaded music and an MP3 player, which the kids can operate themselves or by remote control.

Not only that, but the cars have doors that open, working headlights and back-up and dashboard lights.

These moments of happiness before something as serious as surgery can be invaluable.

“It can be traumatizing for a young patient to be peeled away from their parents as they head into surgery,” the hospital adds. “This truly helps everyone involved.”

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