Families throughout southeastern Idaho share their homes with polka dotted dogs, furry monkeys, pink Arabians, 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. Like children, little furry friends sometimes get injured or sick and 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.
Our goal is for each child to participate in the Teddy Bear Clinic and become an ‘expert.’ 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 bear while they receive necessary medical attention. Children see that all those who care for their furry friend do so to make them feel better. Subsequently, 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.
The annual Teddy Bear Clinic is quite successful and helps 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.
Five year old Scotlyn Vereecken, a former Teddy Bear Clinic attendee, fell skiing this winter and fractured her arm. Since her Teddy bear had already ‘been there, done that,’ she sort of had an idea of what to expect. “I watched my bear get a cast last year and so now we both have had one,” said Vereecken. She plans on attending again this year with her Teddy Bear to have his stitches fixed.
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.
We had over 900 Teddy Bears go through last year and over 2000 people attended the event. Each year the event grows and we are thankful for the chance to engage and educate children in our community.
Children and their stuffed animals can enter the Main Entrance on the southwest side of the building at 777 Hospital Way in Pocatello. From there, volunteers will direct the “patients” to have a checkup. Treatments after the checkup could include an x-ray, stitches, physical therapy or even a cast. There will also be a tour available of the Portneuf Air Rescue helicopter provided it isn’t needed for service. This year, the clinic will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2016 from 10am to 2pm at Portneuf Medical Center. This free annual event is fun for the whole family. 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.