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Improving the pediatric patients' experience with teddy bears

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
Improving the pediatric patients' experience with teddy bears

Seeing your toddler in a hospital bed after surgery can be a daunting sight. Not only does the stress of your child going through surgery weigh heavily on your mind, often after the procedure the child is confused, upset, hungry and maybe crying. And that can make a patient’s (and a parent's) experience unpleasant.

Kim Martinson, RN, Campbell County Health Surgical Services, understands this well. Not only does she see parents with their children after surgery on a day to day basis, she experienced it as a parent earlier in March.

“You’re scared and so is your child,” she said. “Anything that can keep your kid distracted or engaged makes it a lot easier for you, and even the staff.”

For a while, the Surgical Services team at CCMH has thought about how they could improve the pediatric patients’ experience. They’ve always used stickers, and bubbles and other distractions to help, but they could tell that it just wasn’t enough.

In February, the department implemented some new procedures to help ease children’s fears after surgery, according to Sheryl James, Director of CCMH Surgical Services and Cardiac Cath Lab.

To begin with, there is a Princess surgical suite in the department where the walls are adorned with scenes from Disney’s 2013 best-selling movie Frozen—complete with a picture of the Princess of Arendelle herself, Elsa. (The department is working on putting together another suite for little boys – the Cars themed wall decals they purchased didn’t hold up as well as the Princess theme.)

The department also became a Teddy Bear hospital, a suggestion that stems from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. This means that every pediatric patient is given a small teddy bear as well as a certificate of their bravery in surgery, which parents can put in their baby book or even use in a scrapbook. Sheryl has used this idea in other hospitals and has had success with it in the past.

To top it off, patients are also given a surgical scrub hat made by volunteers at CCMH and Pioneer Manor as well as many Surgical Services employees. The patient is allowed to pick out their teddy bear and hat; and if the siblings of the patient are around, they can pick one out as well.

So far, it’s helping.

“It provides that extra dose of comfort for a child when they are in unfamiliar surroundings,” says Sheryl. “We have received great feedback.”

“I really loved it, and Ali really loved her teddy bear,” Kim said. “It’s comforting, as a parent, to see your child relaxed. It just makes the whole experience better for everyone.”

Kim also mentioned that she has seen this help with other patients as well. Recently, a mother let her know that she had taken her child for surgery in another facility, and the hat and teddy bear really made a difference in her child’s experience.

A little extra caring sure can go a long way.

  • Category: CCH News, CCMH News, Surgery, Volunteer