On March 13, Thayer County Health Services (TCHS) held its annual Teddy Bear Clinic, sponsored this year by a generous Thrivent grant on behalf of TCHS employee Jolene Beckmann.
“The purpose of this event is to help children understand what a doctor’s visit will entail by walking through the process with their stuffed animal. It is meant to be fun but also helps to remove the sense of fear that is often associated with going to the hospital,” said Kassi Hartley, Marketing Director at TCHS.
The Teddy Bear Clinic invited children to schedule an appointment for their favorite stuffed animal. Each child experienced the check-in process first hand as they told the volunteer how their stuffed animal was feeling and why it needed an appointment. The answers ranged from broken legs to being tired from too much candy.
Up first was a trip to the lab where they learned about good and bad bacteria, watched their animal receive a blood draw, and were able to see how an infrared vein finder is used. Unfortunately, the device only detected stuffing, but some brave volunteers offered up their arms to see their own veins and the reactions were priceless.
The next stop took them to a handwashing station where they had “germs” in the form of a lotion that shows up under a blacklight placed on their hands. Each child washed their hands and then returned to the blacklight to see all the spots they had missed. A resounding “ew” had many returning for a second trip to the sink to re-wash their hands. After that enlightening experienced, the group traveled down the hall to visit radiology where they saw just how easy it is to receive an x-ray and even took a copy of their stuffed animal’s x-ray home.
A trip across the corridor to the clinic led them to immunizations where their stuffed animal was administered a shot and received a cool band-aid in return. After receiving a sticker for being so brave, they met Jarie Sones, APRN, Family Nurse Practitioner, to examine the eyes and ears of their animals.
Once the stuffed animals were patched up and given a clean bill of health by Jarie, the stuffed animals and their owners said goodbye knowing that the hospital isn’t a scary place to go but will keep them healthy and they’ll walk away with a cool sticker.
A special thank you to Sgt. Tim Pickering for conducting car seat checks, Jolene Beckmann for her Thrivent grant and volunteerism, all of the staff and volunteers that manned their stations and led the groups around, and the Thayer County Health Services Baby Friendly Group for their help in planning and running the clinic.