Teddy bear Clinic
In the Teddy bear Clinic kids are joyfully tought that a doctors visit does not have to be connected with fears and anxiety.
– Fighting the anxiety of the doctors visit with stuffed animals.
Most of us know situations like these:
– You sit in the dentists chair, but even before the treatment sweat is dripping down your forehead
– We enter a hospital and the environment, the smell even old memories give us instantly an uncomfortable feeling.
Emotions like anxiety, doubt and uncertainty are rooted deep in our subconsciousness. And when our kids have to go see the doctor the visit is many times accompanied by tears, and distrust in the medical staff.
To prevent kids from building up anxiety and fear of the doctors visit the Project Teddy Bear Clinic was created.
The Teddy Bear Clinic is primarily for kids of the age 3-6.
The Kids usually talk about the topics health and diseases in the kindergarten or with their parents a couple days ahead of the project days. The think of a disease/illness for the favorite stuffed animal and then bring their „injured“ stuffed animal along with them to the Teddy Bear Clinic. There are no boundaries for the kids fantasies. There are diseases like a broken heart, butterflies in the animals belly but also severe illnesses like cancer.. The childrens imagination is fascinating.
After the admission and a short stay in the waiting room the child is called by a Teddy-Doctor. Teddy-Doctors are usually volunteer medical students, who accompany the children and their injured stuffed animals on their way thorugh the different stations of the hospital.
In the Teddy Bear clinic in Feldkirch (Austria) there are e.g.: an emergency room, a fully equipped ambulance, a radiology, operation room, a dentistry room and a pharmacy.
After the Stuffed animals are treated the children receive a Good Bag with small Gift to reward their courage.
From the visit the kids learn playful how a hospital works. The most important part is, that the stuffed animal is the patient and not the child. They learn that not everything that happens in a hospital must hurt.
The organizers goal is to lower the childrens axiety and fear in case they become a patient themselves one day.
The concept „Teddy Bear Clinic“ exists since the 1990s. The Project was created by the IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Student Associations) and financed exclusively by donations. Since 2000 the project was established in Germany and by now there are Teddy Clinics all over the world.
A Story from the Teddy Bear Clinic
Little Bruno is 5 Years old. He is sitting in the waiting room with his stuffed snaked. A tall woman in white coat enters the room and asks Bruno if she could accompany him to the Teddy Bear Clinic. Bruno points to the small Stuffed Snake that is wrapped around the Doctors stethoscope and says „You also have a snake!.. My Snake is sick.. it has a sore throat.“
„We will make it feel better very quickly! Come along.“ replies the Teddy-Doc.
The first stop is the emergency room. First of all, the pain has to be treated. A small injection and a big bandage serve as the first treatment. Everything is noted down in the anamnestic chart for stuffed animals.
The next stop is the radiology. A CT-diagnostic is performed an the image leaves no doubt.: The snake`s pain is due to its split tongue. That leaves only one therapy. Surgery!
Moving on to the operation room. Bruno can perform the anesthesia and asks: „Will it really feel nothing?“.. „No nothing. I promise“ the surgeon replies.
First intubation, then surgery. Bruno can assist. The tongue is stiched and the snake is brought to the wake-up room. The snake´s control ECG is written.
Everything is fine
The last stop is the pharmacy. After a quick allergy check a „get well soon apple“ is handed to Bruno. He also has to tell his snake a good night story for the upcoming three nights so the wounds heal well.
Bruno and his fury friend are escorted back to the entrance where a Good Bag with small presents is handed to him. He is smiling and on his way out he passes many children who a patiently waiting in line for the doctor to call them to heal their stuffed animals.
Author: Dominik Klug www.instagram.de/dominik_klug
PhotoCredits: Matthias Weissengruber Photography