Three-year-old Julianna Edwards has her beloved hippo Lisa examined by ultrasound technician Sarah May at the 2018 Teddy Bear Clinic at Whitehorse General Hospital. (Sarah Edwards/Submitted)

Doctors, nurses ready to see to Whitehorse’s stuffie population

Teddy Bear Clinic set for Sept. 14 at Whitehorse General Hospital

Teddy bears, hippos, octopuses and other stuffed toys will be seeking the care of Whitehorse doctors and nurses en masse Sept. 14.

That’s when Whitehorse General Hospital staff will be ready to see to the city’s stuffy population at the annual Teddy Bear Clinic.

Yukon Hospital Foundation president Karen Forward said it will mark the third year for the foundation is hosting the clinic, an event organized to help children feel a little more comfortable at the hospital and get to know the staff who work there.

“It’s a really sweet event,” she said.

When kids typically come into the hospital they’re sick and despite the best efforts of staff and all the popsicles and stickers offered, it’s just not fun and can be hard to understand why doctors and nurses are taking blood, stitching up big cuts or doing any other number of procedures needed.

The clinic gives the kids a more positive experience at the hospital, which might make the next trip, if needed, a little more tolerable and easy to understand as they learn the staff are there to help them get better.

That’s exactly why Sarah Edwards had her then-three-year-old daughter Julianna grab her favorite stuffy – a hippo named Lisa – and head to the Teddy Bear Clinic in 2018.

A year before that Julianna had to spend a few days in hospital and Sarah said she wanted her daughter to see that the hospital wasn’t so scary.

As it turned out, Lisa did need a little medical attention with doctors noticing the hippo had a small tear they soon stitched up and Julianna learned doctors and nurses are there to help.

“It was fantastic,” Sarah said. “It was a really positive experience.”

A year later, now four-year-old Julianna is excited to take Lisa back for another checkup.

Both Sarah and Forward were quick to praise the approximately 20 doctors and nurses who come in on their day off to talk with kids and examine the stuffies. Last year’s event saw more than 300 stuffies attend with 175 examined a year earlier at the inaugural Teddy Bear Clinic.

“It’s definitely a very popular event,” Forward said.

Along with having their stuffies examined, kids enjoy a number of other activities: face painting, colouring, and a photo booth to name a few.

And that means families often end up staying a little longer than planned as kids aren’t always wanting to head home right after making sure their favourite stuffy is in good health.

Forward recalls speaking to one woman who went in thinking she and her kids would be there about 20 minutes or a half hour to get their stuffies looked at, only to finally leave an hour and a half later after they had finally finished up all the activities.

With the clinic set up in the hospital’s cafeteria, there’s no services directly impacted.

And with the hospital’s medical imagining department closed on weekends and holidays, it also gives hospital staff a chance to show off some of that equipment, like the ultrasound machine displayed last year.

It’s something that similar Teddy Bear Clinics at larger hospitals Outside just can’t offer.

This time around, families will be get a chance to see where donations to the hospital foundation go with the arrival of a family of mannequins that will be used to train medical staff.

The family – including a pregnant woman, adult male, young boy and a baby – are admittedly a little “creepy”, Forward said, in how close they resemble humans – bodily fluids and all.

At the same time though “they are neat”.

“Anything a human can do they can do,” she said.

It means medical staff – including those in communities – will be able to practice how to deal with things like difficult childbirth or any other number of medical situations. The mannequins will be based in part of the hospital that became vacant with the shifting around of space after the current emergency room was built. The space includes a control station and is set up to mirror a typical clinic.

Having the mannequins – at a cost of $1 million – means medical staff in the territory will have more training opportunities, including in procedures that may be rarely performed.

The Teddy Bear Clinic, Forward said, is a chance for the hospital to connect not only with youngsters, but with the wider community and share what is happening at the hospital.

The clinic will run from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Sept. 14.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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