The Teddy Bear Clinic
Families throughout southeastern Idaho share their homes with polka dotted dogs, furry monkeys, pink Arabians, sea otters, friendly lions, and some, perhaps even have a spirited unicorn. While these animals don’t eat much, they wear plenty of hats and are often found sleeping under the covers, sneaking into backpacks, partaking in tea parties, comforting the nighttime frights and dare I say they often are infused with a bit of magic. Yet, like children, little furry friends sometimes get sick or injured and may need to be seen by a caring professional in order to get better.
This is the premise behind the Teddy Bear Clinic. We at Portneuf Medical Center know that a trip to the hospital can be overwhelming and a bit frightening for little ones. If your child’s stuffed animal can handle a visit to the hospital to get stitches or a bandage, then, if or when, your child needs to visit the hospital for an injury or illness, they will be less frightened.
Bumps and bruises, colds and an occasional broken bone are part of childhood. Our goal is for each child to participate and become an expert. If the child ever needs to come back for an injury or illness, they have some background knowledge that can help put some of their fears at ease. When a child brings their cuddly bear to the hospital to attend the Teddy Bear Clinic, the child gets to play the role of parent who comforts their teddy bear while they receive necessary medical attention. They see first-hand that all who cares for their furry friend does so to make them feel better.
Overall, the annual Teddy Bear Clinic has been quite successful in helping to dispel some of the anxieties children feel when they must see a doctor for a medical procedure or treatment. In fact, we have had some former participants who have later been patients. They can attest that the Teddy Bear Clinic played a pivotal role in comforting and reassuring them. Our former teddy bear clinic attendees each have had the opportunity to learn about the hospital, meet the staff, and be a part of a teddy bear’s checkup. Every child who comes to the Teddy Bear Clinic is encouraged to bring a teddy bear or other stuffed toy in for a checkup which may include mending and repair (stitches), casting, weights and measurements, physical therapy, x-rays and if necessary, even surgery. For parents, experts are on hand to provide information ranging from injury prevention to the importance of sunscreen safety and from immunizations to poison prevention. The staff, volunteers and the all those who participate love the Teddy Bear Clinic. Children receive a goody bag, coloring book, crayons, stickers and valuable information. Teddy Graham crackers and milk are provided. At present, a special tour of the LifeFlight helicopter is scheduled, but there is a chance that the crew and helicopter may be otherwise engaged that morning.
Last year, over 600 stuffed patients went through the 20 different stations that were set up and manned by hospital staff and volunteers. Last year, one of our registered nurses was busy apply bandages to wounded bears. One of her patients held up a tattered and well-loved brown teddy bear wearing a pink sweater with a heart. The bears name was Buttercup. The little six year old owner kindly mentioned that Buttercup’s leg had a little booboo. As the leg was carefully wrapped in a pink cast, the little girl kissed Buttercup and thanked the nurse for making it all better. It is these little heartfelt moments that make everyone want to come back year after year. In fact, for over the past 30 years, the event has grown, and we are thankful for the chance to engage and educate children in our community.
Portneuf Medical Center invites all children ages 2 to 12 to the annual Teddy Bear Clinic. This year, the clinic will be held on March 15, 2014 from 10am to 2pm at PMC, 777 Hospital Way. With hourly drawing, activities and more, this annual event is fun for the whole family. The event is free. For more information, call 208-239-1155. To learn more about PMC’s upcoming events and seminars, be sure to like Portneuf Medical Center on Facebook.