Teddy Bear Hospital a huge success
Mon, 06 Aug 2012 8:40a.m.
By Craig Hoyle
Auckland toys were out in large numbers over the weekend, but it was no picnic for these paw teddies.
Instead, several hundred sick bears arrived at Starship Children’s Hospital with ailments ranging from broken bones to aching paws.
They were there as part of the second annual Teddy Bear Hospital, which teddy doctor and medical student Zoe Dyer said was about making young children feel comfortable in a medical environment.
“The idea is that kids bring their teddy bears to teddy bear hospital, and they tell us what’s going on with their teddy,” she said.
We take them through all the different types of medical examinations like stethoscopes and bandaging. It’s a really fun experience and something that kids really get into and enjoy.”
Ms Dyer said that children were very forthcoming with the illnesses their soft toys were suffering from.
“We find that instead of having to prompt the kids they’re more likely to tell us 15 different bones that need fixing, their tummy’s sore, their head’s sore, etc etc,” she said.
Shannon and Becky were among the children who had brought their toys in for a check-up, and said that their toy, Pony, was very sick indeed.
“She has to have a cast, and she was ill and had the flu,” said Shannon.
“We fixed up her throat, and her knees and legs, but we haven’t done the injection or pills yet.”
Pony went on to have x-rays, bandages, oxygen and injections, after which she was declared better.
Ms Dyer said demystifying the hospital experience like this is important for children, and can contribute to their speedy recovery.
“Going to the doctor can be a really scary thing for children, especially when you’re sick,” she said.
“If you can prepare kids for that, it can reduce the anxiety of hospital or going to the doctor, and that can have a really positive outcome for kids in terms of their health. They’ll recover more quickly, and are less likely to have complications.”
The Teddy Bear Hospital is also good experience for the students, with more than 120 registering to become teddy bear doctors.
“It’s a great experience for medical students, because looking after a kid who’s sick can actually be really scary,” said Ms Dyer.
“We worry about upsetting them in some way, or think that they’re maybe more fragile and we could hurt them in some way, so getting some experience with healthy kids in this sort of way can be really good.”
Ms Dyer said the reaction from the children had been fantastic.
“We find that they really enjoy it, and are really keen to use all the equipment and really keen to come back.
“A lot of them tell us that they want to be doctors when they grow up, so that’s really exciting.”
Following the success of the project, it is hoped that it can be expanded next year.
“We’d like to make it accessible to as many kids as we can,” said Ms Dyer.
The Teddy Bear Hospital is a global initiative, and was first held in New Zealand at the Well Child Clinic in Auckland’s Greenlane last year.
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