Children of all ages were seen walking aroundin scrubs, surgical caps and masks while carefully examining the health of their stuffed animals this month at Centennial Hills Hospital.
The annual Teddy Bear Clinic was held to educate children about healthcare through interaction with the hospital staff.
“Once they see the hospital equipment and learn about it, they realize that hospitals aren’t so scary,” said Donna McCarthur, community relations coordinator at the Valley Health System.
The pulmonary exhibit taught children about asthma and breathing techniques, while the radiology display showed children the insides of teddy bears and explained how X-ray machines function.
Two-year-old Joshua Neja has been in and out of hospitals to get treatment for his asthma. With the help of the clinic, Joshua had the opportunity to bring his favorite stuffed animal to experience similar procedures he undergoes on a routine basis.
“If my son had any apprehension about going to the hospital before, this event will help him feel more relaxed,” said Vicki Neja, his mother.
Olivia Freeman, 4, brought her teddy bear to the clinic because “he became sick after eating too much candy every day.”
The KinderCare student admitted that although she is afraid of shots, the clinic made her feel more at ease.
There was a first aid station where toys with missing eyes and noses or tears in them could get repaired by a team of volunteers.
Children learned to give sponge baths and diaper and swaddle their stuffed animals at the Baby Bear Nursery.
Kim Taylor, director of emergency services at the hospital, was seen putting colorful bandages on children and stuffed animals in hopes of reducing any fear and anxiety tied to the emergency room.
“I want children to feel comfortable if they ever have to come here,” Taylor said. “We teach them that X-rays and bandages don’t hurt; they just make things better.”
An ambulance was stationed outside the hospital for children to tour, and a helicopter visit was given to teach children about emergency situations.
McCarthur said she hopes that parents will similarly feel at ease with staff members in case their child ever needs to undergo a medical emergency.
Approximately 200 people attended the event, according to McCarthur.
“They think, ‘If my bear does it, then I can do it, too,’ ” McCarthur said. “It shows kids that hospitals are not a scary place.”
For more information, visit centennialhillshospital.com.
Contact North View reporter Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.