HAYS — A trip to the hospital can create anxiety for anyone, but children at Hays Medical Center can drive the stress away by wheeling through the hallways.
The Wonder Women League, an affiliate of the United Way of Ellis County, joined Wednesday afternoon with HaysMed and several businesses to officially introduce the Wagons and Wheels Project.
The Hays Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting in the hospital gave the public a look at the red wagons and motorized vehicles that children will be able to ride during their stay at the hospital.
The red wagons are equipped with IV poles and will be used to transport children who are in the hospital for a long stay, such as after surgery.
“Parents can take them out of their room and take them for a stroll,” Wonder Women League Co-chair Nancy Jeter said.
Getting out of the hospital room can help relieve boredom and stress, but can be difficult with the IV pole and pump, she said.
The IV pole for the wagon, called Chad’s Bracket, was created by Roger Leggett, whose granddaughter was treated for a brain tumor at a Georgia hospital. He and one of his sons, Chad, saw a woman transporting her child in a wagon while trying to wrangle his IV, and talked about a way to make that easier for parents.
Chad died soon after, and Leggett designed the attachment in his memory, working with Children’s Hospital of Atlanta to make it safe to use.
But in working with the Hays hospital, the Wonder Women League realized HaysMed had different needs.
“The majority of their patients are not long-term,” she said. “Most of their pediatrics patients are in and out the same day. Most of those are tonsillectomies, ear canals and drawing blood.”
Members of the Wonder Women committee on the project thought it would be fun for the children to hop into a car brought by the nurse and “drive” to their procedure.
The cars are actually steered by a nurse with a remote control.
The committee could find only three other hospitals in the country using the motorized vehicles, Jeter said.
“I contacted them and they said they have been so successful and that the kids just love them,” she said.
Three area car dealers — Auto World, Hays Chevrolet and Lewis Automotive — were quick to donate the $500 cost of each vehicle. The cars are made to a higher quality than those that can be purchased through retail, and the RC equipment was included, Jeter said.
RD Graphics created “license plates” for the vehicles and Commercial Sign created a mural for an alcove in the Pediatric Unit where the cars and wagons will be parked.