TUCSON, Ariz. — It can be hard having to spend time in the hospital. There is the room you aren’t familiar with, the tests while hospital staff try to find out what is wrong with you, and the wires and needles you are stuck with. Then there is the IV stand. For an adult, this can be a daunting task; just getting up and moving around can be difficult. Things that we take for granted, like getting up to use the bathroom, become a time consuming effort. Making sure you don’t pull something out or get tangled. Now imagine you are a child. Imagine being their parent? You want to help take their mind off of being in the hospital. Well, now you have something extra in your toolbox.
After seeing a story about lily pads: a piece of wood that is painted and placed on the base of an IV stand that is used as a seat for a patient, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Craig Bailey, 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron commander, contacted one of his Senior NCOs to see how hard it would be to replicate for the children’s hospital here in town and if they would want them. That is when things started rolling.
We met with a child life specialist at the Diamond Children’s Center at Banner University Medical Center. We also reached out to a local woodworker, who helped develop the prototype to make sure it would work right before mass production started. We even had a test pilot from the hospital take the prototype for a spin to make sure it would work.
Airmen donated the lumber, tools, and time to cut them all out and then Airmen assigned to the 355th EMS and 355th Medical Group and their families decorated them. The Lily pads were decorated as superheroes, lady bugs, cartoons and even an A-10s. After they were painted a clear coated was added for patients with latex allergies and to help with cleaning and disinfecting after use.
Airman from the 355th EMS created a rack and design for the lily pads so the kids could pick out the pad they want without having to go through a stack.
The pads were delivered on January 18, and while a majority of the base was off for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, hospitals were still working and kids are still sick. It was the perfect day to surprise kids and their parents.