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Teddy Bear Clinic helps children be less afraid of hospital visit

A visit to the hospital can sometimes be a little scary for kids.

But on Saturday, hundreds of children visited a local hospital to have fun.

It was the 32nd year for Portneuf Medical Center’s Teddy Bear Clinic in Pocatello.

But how does medically treating a stuffed animal help kids in their own treatments?

Saturday’s event was to help kids become more comfortable with medical facilities.

When the kids come in, they begin the check-in process. Volunteers and staff take them through the steps using their stuffed animal as a learning tool.

“People come to the Teddy Bear Clinic, the children become the parent and their teddy bear is the child,” said Monica White, director of Volunteer Services.

The kids tell the staff what happened to their stuffed animal, like a broken leg, a bite from a poisonous creature, or even just a cut that needs more than a Band-Aid.

Then the staff shows them the process to fix the injury. This helps the child be more at ease if they ever come to the hospital as a patient.

“It’s to help the kids not be afraid,” White said. “So when they do come to the hospital as a patient, it’s not such a scary environment.”

Thousands of parents and children attended the event today, including local child celebrity Brooklyn Fisher, whose story inspired a wheelchair-friendly park to be built.

“It’s completely a Portneuf sponsored event. We do have some organizations that come,” White explained. “The (Pocatello) Police Department is here doing fingerprinting, ISU Dental Hygiene is teaching the kids about the importance of brushing their teeth. It’s a free event to the community, there’s no charge, and the kids go home with a goody bag full of things.”

And sometimes the hospital staff sees kids come in with their stuffed animals from the clinic, this time comforting the child during their treatment at the hospital.

White also said some parents who brought their kids this year attended this same clinic when they were kids.

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