Teddy Bear Clinic invites children and their friends to explore HCMC’s pediatric emergency department

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Visiting an emergency department for the first time can be scary – but not on Saturday, May 21 from 8-10 AM when kids are invited to bring their Teddy Bears to Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) Emergency Department for a special Teddy Bear Clinic.

“The goal of this free event is to expose children to the medical environment before a traumatic situation occurs,” explains HCMC emergency physician Dr. Ashley Strobel. “In addition to preventing trauma, we hope to help children feel more comfortable in this setting and with the procedures that occur during a typical emergency department visit. Allowing Teddy – or any other stuffed animal – to participate demonstrates the friendly nature and loving goal of a visit.”
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Teddy Bears visiting the emergency department on May 21 will be “admitted” and may have a variety of procedures performed including blood pressure and heart rate checks, injections, stitches, x-rays, or a splint or bandage placed on their paws.

The Teddy Bear Clinic may be a special occasion, but Teddy Bears are welcome in the emergency department anytime. In fact, parents are encouraged to have their child bring their Teddy Bear or any item that will add to their comfort (electronic games, favorite toys, blanket or doll).

While these familiar items can be helpful, Dr. Strobel reminds parents that they are their child’s source of strength and security during an emergency visit. “Being honest about what might happen and reducing anxiety are important. If a procedure is required in the emergency department, parents can help ease the anxiety by talking to them, calming and supporting their child. They can also remind their child that the doctor or nurse is doing something to make them feel better.”

This is especially true for a child’s biggest fear – the needle. HCMC is implementing a poke plan to minimize injection anxiety with the goal of becoming an “ouch-less” emergency department. This is accomplished with the use of creams, sprays, medications, and even laughing gas.  HCMC’s Child Life Specialists also play a key role in providing activities to help distract children from painful procedures.

“As a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center we have a duty to our community to provide the highest level of pediatric emergency and surgical care,” says Dr. Strobel. “And part of the healing experience is to reduce anxiety for the child and family during traumatizing and stressful situations in an unfamiliar hospital environment. Knowing what may happen and having a special friend like Teddy navigate those experiences can minimize these fears.”

In addition to the Teddy Bear examinations, the Teddy Bear Clinic will feature Teddy bear repairs and sew-ups, trauma prevention activities, ambulance and fire truck tours, and free bike helmet give-ways (while supplies last). For more information go to hcmc.org/teddy.

For more than 120 years, Hennepin County Medical Center has successfully taken care of critically injured and ill children. That experience makes a huge difference when a child’s life is at risk. HCMC is a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center with the right people and equipment in place, ready to care for critically injured children from the time of injury through rehabilitation.

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