The lobby of Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center was filled with children and stuffed bears as hospital staffers, volunteers and residents participated in the hospital’s annual Teddy Bear Clinic.
The Aug. 7 event was aimed at teaching young people about hospital functions through hands-on demonstrations with teddy bears from hospital staff, said Christine Beltran-Bittner, system director of advertising for the hospital, who oversaw the event.
“In 2008 when they first opened the hospital, our director at the time said in their previous hospital that they’d done something called a teddy bear clinic,” Beltran-Bittner said. “It educates young people on the hospital and what happens here so that there’s a familiar and happy experience before they ever come to the hospital if they have to.”
As their furry friends passed from booth to booth, children watched hospital staffers perform X-rays, breathing treatments and casting on the stuffed animals.
Jennifer Jacobs of Centennial Hills attended with her husband and their 2-year-old daughter, Jade. The family has a personal connection to the hospital, she said.
“Jade was born here at five-and-a-half weeks, and the staff here really helped me through,” Jacobs said. “When I heard about this event, I had to bring her. She’s so interested in doctors and the medical field already. I thought this would be perfect to take her to this.”
Over 100 people attended the two-hour event, according to Beltran-Bittner.
“Jade still runs up to the staff when we see them out in public,” Jacobs said. “It’s important for kids to know to trust the doctors. It’s not always a fun experience, but it’s important to build that trust.”
Amber Shoemake, of Centennial Hills works as a nurse at the hospital. She attended with her three children on her day off.
“I have been in health care for 12 years, and I think it’s super important for kids to understand what goes on here,” Shoemake said. I’m a nurse, so I think it’s super important to teach the kids about health and how to take care of each other and their bodies. This hospital is very family-oriented and very … I like the smallness of it. Everyone is close-knit.”