Kid-size cars ease anxiety at Georgia children's hospital
ATLANTA - At 5, Luke Collett is still a 11 years away from scoring his driver's license.
But the Gainesville kindergartner is tooling around in a sweet white BMW convertible, rolling up and down the hallways of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite's radiology department.
He's not great at keeping his eyes on the road, or the hallway.,
Fortunately, Collegtt is getting a little remote control "guidance" from x-ray technician and ground traffic controller Roger Smith.
"If they're old enough to drive themselves, we will let them," says Crystal Blake, a supervisor in the department. "But, we have remote controls and we just kind of walk behind them and drive the cars."
And, behind the wheel, it's pretty clear Luke isn't focused on why he's here, after taking a hard tumble off his bike a few months back.
"He got a concussion back in June, and had a CT, and they wanted to follow with an MRI," Jessica Collett, Luke's mother, says. "It's been a stressful morning. Just knowing he has to be sedated for this procedure, and get an IV, which he's never had before.
But on this morning, riding back to his procedure in his car, not on a gurney, he's all Cool Hand Luke.
"Just to see him rolling thorough the halls, smiling, waving at the nurses, stopping backing up, it just really brought light to a stressful situation," Luke's mother says.
"Sometimes getting them back here is half the battle, so if they can enjoy the trip, we're halfway there to getting them to do what you need to do," Blake says.
Luke does the driving, Roger helps with the steering.
"They can override it, which can be entertaining, when they go one way and we go the other," Crystal Blake says.
Children's started with 2 cars earlier this summer, bought for about $400 a piece by donations.
It was a trial, to see if they could ease patient and parent anxiety on the way too and from radiology procedures.
The cars were such a hit, clinical operations consultant Gina Dobrasz says, they knew in about 15 minutes they were onto something and wanted more.
"Children's does a great job at distractions, and this was just another way to take it up a notch; and do something really innovative and really creative," Dobrasz says. "And, the kids love it."
So, do mom and dad.
"They've got their phones out, they're recording," Crystal Blake says.
"I actually went "Facebook Live" during the stroll," Luke's mother laughs.
Children's now has 3 cars, with 2 more on the way.
"We would like a fleet," Gina Dobrasz says. " We would like a fleet to go to all our locations."
You have to be 3 and under 60 pounds to ride in the cars.
And, there have been some bumps in the road.
"We've had a few meltdowns," says Blake. "They like the cars, and then they drive, and they don't want to leave."
And when it's time for Luke to got back to a holding room for his procedure, he's smiling, still thinking about his ride, and his new pal, Roger Smith.
He jumps of the stretcher, and out the door to the hallway, giving his wingman a high-five.Children's hopes to purchase 20 cars for each of its hospitals and satellite clinics.
If you'd like to donate money towards a card, here is a link to the hospital system's wish list: https://give.choa.org/site/Ecommerce/1186176068?store_id=1262