Patients treat cuddly companions at the annual Teddy Bear Clinic
By Emily de Medeiros
On March 24, patients at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) took on the role of doctors and learned how to diagnose, treat and care for some plush patients at the Teddy Bear Clinic.
The Teddy Bear Clinic is one of many events hosted by Child Life each March. Like a regular clinic, patients admit their teddies into the clinic, triage them appropriately, and perform common procedures like blood work and even MRIs and X-rays. For many patients, this is a regular day at SickKids!
Eight-year-old Sarah attended the Teddy Bear Clinic and was eager to treat her cuddly companion, Goldy.
Sarah admitted her teddy into the clinic and immediately began a triage assessment. According to Sarah’s results, Goldy had a healthy temperature of 98 degrees and weighed just about 60 pounds!
She continued her checkup and confidently grabbed the stethoscope to check her bear’s heart and lungs. “All good!” she exclaimed.
After some blood work and tests, Sarah discovered that Goldy needed surgery. Goldy was a little nervous, but Sarah reassured her, “just take a deep breath and everything will be okay.” The two of them picked bubblegum flavour for the anesthesia mask and Sarah coached her pal through the whole process, just like a Child Life Specialist would do.
“A lot of kids have experienced sedation either in a hospital setting or at a dentist, and it is often one of the scariest parts for them,” says Margot Lichty, Child Life Specialist at SickKids. “Offering patients to pick a flavour may increase their comfort level by allowing them a small choice during a time when they feel events are beyond their control.”
“The Teddy Bear Clinic is a great way for children to familiarize themselves with common hospital procedures and learn how they are performed to help ease stress and anxiety, as well as enhance coping strategies,” says Kimberly O’Leary, Professional Practice Lead of Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy at SickKids.
“It is never easy to have to come to the hospital, but this experience has really turned her day around,” said Sarah’s mom, Kim. “It means a lot to see her smile.”
Thanks to Sarah, Junior MD at the Teddy Bear Clinic, Goldy is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery! Sarah and mom were excited to take Goldy home – healthy and happy!