A Teddy Bear Clinic – Demystifying Hospital

If you go down TMC’s halls today
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down TMC’s halls today
You’d better go in disguise.

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their clinic.

Over the past two days, over 700 children have streamed through TMC’s hallways and converged for a Teddy Bear picnic clinic. This annual event, open to local kindergartens and first grade classrooms, aims to dispel some of the fears that children face when they have to come to the hospital.

Jolene Eggert, Child Life Services Manager, explains that for many children their first experience in a hospital can be quite scary. The Teddy Bear Clinic takes some of that fear away, allowing the children to ‘experience’ some common procedures, ex. having a cast put on, blood pressure reading, and heart rate, through the eyes of their stuffed animal.

While it might look like play, this Child Life intern is helping these Bloom Elementary students learn about the different body organs while they also familiarized themselves with the specialized hospital bed.

If you know your child will have to come to the hospital for a scheduled surgery, there are some things you can do to help them feel more comfortable:

  1. Take a tour. We offer tours prior to surgery for you and your child. This is a wonderful time for both adults and children to ask questions. The tour takes only about 15 minutes and is free. To schedule a tour, call 324-5370. This will help demystify what is a very foreign environment.
  2. Encourage your child to talk about how they feel and address their concerns and fears.
  3. While the doctors and nurses will explain what is happening, your child may have lots of questions and will often look to you for confirmation, you are their most familiar authority. If you’re not sure how to explain a diagnosis or treatment please ask the doctors,nurses and child life specialists for help.
  4. Check out our children’s guide and go over it with your child.
  5. Bring something from home. Our new pediatric unit is full of homey touches, but still it always helps to have a little of home with you in a new place. A favorite teddy bear, a journal, a blanket might make a big difference.

Partnering with TMC Child Life on this project are Pima Medical Institute and the Joint Technical Education District. You can see more photographs on the Tucson Medical Center’s Flickr stream.

He might not be a teddy bear, but Mickey still needs a cast. Interacting with health care professionals in this safe, non-threatening environment allows a positive experience.

Checking out the X-rays these Bloom Elementary students compare their own hands to those on the projector.