By: Sandy Truong, V.P., Corporate Development, AMPHS

After its debut last April, the Teddy Bear Clinic (TBC) made another entrance at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral on July 8, 2012. The event was geared towards familiarizing children with the hospital setting, whether they were visiting for an annual checkup or being admitted for a medical emergency.  Designed to mirror the experience of a regular doctor’s visit, the children brought in their favorite teddies to use as mock patients on which to learn how to perform routine medical check-up procedures. The TBC was held at the Cathedral for their Sunday school students.

With assistance of the AMPHS staff, the children learned how to perform routine medical check-ups and procedures on the teddy bears. The children also learned how certain medical instruments are used, such as the blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. Afterwards, the children were able to examine the medical equipment and perform those medical procedures on their own teddy bears. Both the nutrition workshop, that emphasized the importance of healthy eating, and TBC helped to keep the students occupied and engaged.

The students started out at the welcome desk where they picked up a patient history form for their teddy bears. With assistance from the church’s clergy, they were asked to answer questions about their teddy’s health and to draw a picture of their teddy with help from Sister Green from the ministry. After they were done, the students were escorted over to the height and weight station, where Sister Tawanna from the ministry helped them take their bear’s height & weight. Sandy Truong, Vice President of Corporate Development who played the role of the teddies’ pediatrician said, “It was a pleasure working with the students at the teddy bear clinic. A lot of them were curious about the instruments we were using to examine their teddy bears, especially the blood pressure cuff. They all wanted a turn to pump up the cuff.  She checked the teddy bear’s heart rate and blood pressure to make sure they were in healthy condition and allowed the students to put on the spare stethoscope to listen at the same time. Some of the children even attempted to listen to their own heartbeats with the instrument! The students were also allowed to use the blood pressure cuff with supervision. While she was working with one of the students, the other students gathered around her looking on with interest and anxiously waiting their turn. As she was checking the bear’s vitals she would talk to the students about the importance of having a healthy diet and exercise to avoid high blood pressure.

At the next station, another AMPHS staff member Barbara Olivier, played the role of Otolaryngologist, ears, nose and throat doctor, and Optometrist, checking the bear’s  other vitals. Barbara said, “A lot of the children recognized the skills I was performing on their bear. I would try to relate it to when they went to the doctors and explained why the doctor did those skills.” Barbara showed the students where to shine the pen light and where to use the otoscope, a medical device which is used to look into the ears and then let the students try it themselves. After all of the bear’s vitals were checked, they went over to the immunization station where they were due for their yearly flu shot. Abigail explained to each student the importance of getting a flu shot. At the end of the doctor visit, each teddy bear and child got rewarded with a sticker for their completion of the day’s activities.

The Teddy Bear Clinic was a great opportunity for the students to come in and enjoy themselves while learning a little bit about medicine. The children got to play “doctor” for a while and learned how to use the stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. They also learned about the importance of a healthy diet and immunizations.

At future TBCs, we will continue to provide simulated general check-up clinics, but also specialize in addressing specific diseases, such as diabetes. This will help children that have diabetes learn how to cope with their illness and prepare for it. Stay tuned for the next Teddy Bear Clinic. Whether in-house or at your local library, TBC will be fun and educational!