Teddy bears get boo-boos, too

Teddy bears get boo-boos, too

Teddy Bear Hospital helps children (and bears) stay healthy

By Meredith Rutland

Photo by Meredith Rutland

“Lemur” the sugar glider had a hurt head. “Put Put” the chameleon had a broken leg. “Cookie Monster” needed an eye transplant.

The patients came into the room cuddled by their waist-high parents: the elementary-school children of Gainesville Country Day School.

Photo by Meredith Rutland

On Nov. 10, about 35 children between 4 and 6 brought their teddy bears, stuffed bunnies and other toys to get treated by residents and medical students from the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.

The event, called a Teddy Bear Hospital, is meant to help kids feel comfortable around doctors and to give them basic health tips, such as brushing their teeth and eating fruits and vegetables, said Abeer Hamdy, M.D., a pediatrics resident.

She said having the children act as parents helps make the experience of going to the doctor less scary.

Ava Watson, 5, held Lemur and explained that her toy was cross-eyed and had boo-boos.

After an examination, Lemur was given a cast on its head. Then it was off to the pharmacy for a prescription: “Lots of kisses to boo-boos and hugs,” said Heather Allewett, a third-year pediatrics resident.

Plastic stethoscopes, and the occasional real one, were used to search for heartbeats among the cotton and plastic. Residents used needleless syringes to give shots, and toys with broken bones got colorful casts.

Photo by Meredith Rutland

Woodstock the bluebird needed a cast on his right wing. Then his left wing. Then his head.

Yeonjung Park, a third-year medical student, said the children seemed to make the most of the event.

“I feel that it’s more than their stuffed animal to them,” she said. “They really do treat them like their friends.”