These Kids Able to Sail through Surgery

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

Youngsters at Wolfson Children's Hospital will now be "sailing" into surgery on specially commissioned red and blue boats.

The two boats were christened Tuesday outside the San Marco hospital's operating rooms on the second floor.

"These boats will bring a smile to many children's faces as they help them sail through surgery," said Carolyn Johnson, the hospital's vice president of patient services.

Johnson and Janet Mahn, director of surgical services, christened the boats with bottles that spewed rainbow-colored confetti rather than champagne. Eventually, four other wheel-mounted boats will be added to the fleet.

In the past, youngsters facing surgery were ferried to and from the operating room in a red wagon. The wagons still will be used in other areas of the hospital.

But Johnson wanted to switch to boats on the operating floor because of its marine theme. Two years ago, blue tile in a rippled design that signified the St. Johns River was installed. To add to the effect, inserts in the shape of turtles, fish and alligators were cut into the tile. Brightly colored scenes of Jacksonville from its outskirts to downtown were painted on the walls.

"We thought it would be cute for the kids to go to surgery in boats," Johnson said. "So ever since the floor was done, we've been trying to find a catalog featuring a boat that you could carry a child in."

Eventually, the hospital commissioned Michael Adams, owner of Precision Fabrication and Welding, to build the aluminum boats. …