Hospitalization or an encounter with ambulatory services can be traumatic for children and their family. This anxiety is associated with emotional stress, irritability, insomnia, behavioral issues, malnutrition and slower recovery. Occasionally, this anxiety can postpone necessary care for children, increasing illness, pain and extending length of hospital stay. In an effort to improve children’s comfort level with the hospital and staff, MidHudson Regional Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, hosts an annual Teddy Bear clinic for local kids.
Each summer, kids can attend a free teddy bear clinic at the hospital. The clinic teaches and educates young children about going to the hospital, experiencing an emergency room and all the noises and treatments that go along with it, removing the fear and providing the support. The inclusive environment is key to helping kids overcome their fear of the hospital. Before kids are brought to the emergency department, they spend time with the local Fire Department learning about the fire truck, first aid and the ambulance. Using the teddy bears as patient surrogates helps explain to the children how medical staff provide treatment at a child&##39;s level of understanding.
This year’s clinic was the first to include kids who may be on the autism spectrum. The hospital continues to focus on becoming a more diverse educational experience for children across the community, especially those with a diagnosis, special needs or different learning style. In the last 10 years, more than 300 children have conquered their hospital-related fear through this program.
MidHudson’s program was highlighted in a recent article by The Poughkeepsie Journal.
For more information, contact Margaret Slomin, director, preschool, day care and therapies, at (845) 518-4186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.