Two hospitals, time zones away from each other and thousands of miles apart, are forever connected by the last wish of one remarkable man. Pediatric patients at Levine Children’s Hospital and Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawai’i, will now get a special going-away celebration, riding miniature trains through the hospital to mark the end of their stays.
The special send-off is the brainchild of Bob Douglas, an 82-year-old Maui man whose own battle with cancer served as the inspiration behind this project. He hoped the trains would be a positive experience for children as they left the hospital.
Bob gifted Levine Children’s Hospital with its first two trains for its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit earlier this year. After seeing the popularity of the NICU train, he gifted Levine with another train for older children and promised two trains to Kapi‘olani Medical Center. He asked that the two hospitals have simultaneous reveals of their trains to their respective communities.
Unfortunately, Bob passed away in October 2017, before he could see all his trains in action. But Bob will never be far from the minds of the patients and staff at Levine Children’s Hospital.
“Every day, the discharge trains will chug through our hospital, celebrating victories big and small,” said Callie Dobbins, Vice President and Facility Executive at Levine Children’s Hospital. “Bob’s memory will live on in the joy he will bring to countless children and their families, both at Levine Children’s and Kapi‘olani Medical Center.”
Bob, who was legally blind and served as an advocate for the blind and disabled in Hawaii, leaves behind a strong legacy of giving, both in his home state and in Charlotte. He connected with the facility in Charlotte as a big NASCAR fan and former stock car racer himself. After seeing the discharge train bring so much joy to the families of newborns, Bob wanted to extend the train experience to other children in hospitals across the country.
“Bob will always be remembered for this gift and have a special role at our medical center by touching the lives of our patients and families with these discharge trains,” said Martha Smith, CEO of Kapi‘olani Medical Center. “He also allowed us to share the aloha spirit with Levine Children’s Hospital. Both of our facilities are focused on helping kids get healthy and these discharge trains set the tone of being on the right track when they leave us.”
Honoring Bob’s memory, the two hospitals launched their trains simultaneously, live via webinar. The celebration comes after a state-to-state souvenir exchange. Levine Children’s Hospital staff sent Carolinas Panthers hats and scarves, while Kapi’olani staff sent lei and chocolate covered macadamia nut candies – gifts exchanged between two hospitals brought together by a man who lived, and died, helping others.