Next stop, home! 'Discharge trains' give keiki fun way to leave hospital

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the average, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children discharges about 20 children per day.

And from now on pediatric patients will ride the "discharge train" to the hospital's front door — in a celebratory exit for keiki heading home.

"It really means a lot to the kids to have something playful, magical and fun as they leave here," said Martha Smith, Kapiolani Medical Center's CEO.

Maui resident Bob Douglas came up with the idea for the mini locomotive after his friends' experience at Kapiolani.

Barry and Julia Wurst's daughter, Beatrice, was born prematurely in 2015.

"We were taken such good care of. He thought, 'Gosh, there's other kids there. They have to be there for a really long time, months and months.' He just wanted to give them a little ray of hope, a little sunshine," Julia Wurst said.

During a video hookup, Kapiolani unveiled its two trains at the same time Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, unveiled its second.

Kapiolani's pair cost $27,000. Douglas paid for all of them.

He was 82 when he died in October from cancer.

"The trains were being manufactured at the time and we were moving as quickly as we could. We're sorry he wasn't able to be with us but we know he's out there," Smith said.

Barry Wurst added, "There's going to be generations and generations of countless kids who are going to see this as a form of comfort and escape. It's beautiful."

The license plates on the trains honor Douglas with the words "POWRD BY BOB."

Douglas was legally blind, but had the vision to give pediatric hospital patients a playful sendoff. The next stop for the kids who ride the trains is home.

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