PALMYRA, Mo. — The first Teddy Bear Clinic at Palmyra Elementary School attracted dozens of children and their favorite cuddly friends to the school gymnasium Tuesday to perform complete check-ups and feel more comfortable about visits to the doctor's office.
Early Childhood Director Kathy Nicholson assisted fellow volunteers at the reception area, commending the Blessing Palmyra Clinic and the Hannibal Clinic for partnering with Palmyra Parents as Teachers for the event. Each child carried a clipboard to mark off each check-up for their animals and babies, learning about health care while using the same equipment doctors and nurses use, like stethoscopes, blood pressure monitors and thermometers. Many children wore paper nurse hats and face masks as they visited each exam station with their family members.
The children had their “patients” in tow to perform checkups on their heart, height and weight, along with the chance to give them medicine, perform dental care with Dr. Adrienne Lynn, DDS and medical care with Dr. Samang Kim, DO.
“We're really thrilled to have the medical staff here,” Nicholson said.
She said that Teddy Bear Clinics have come to Hannibal and Quincy in the past, and she was excited about the first year for the event in Palmyra. After all the check-ups were complete, each child received a health certificate that read “Diagnosis: Tender Loving Care Syndrome. RX: Hug bear twice daily and bed rest with owner.”
“One of the goals of Parents as Teachers is to provide educational experiences for parents and their young children to do together,” Nicholson said. “They're learning about the community, they're learning about health... in a safe and friendly way with their parents.”
Adelaide Rosenkrans, 3, brought “Goat” to each station, giving him medicine, checking his vision with eyeglasses and peering into his ears with an otoscope before she went to the next station for a blood pressure check. Her grandmother, Ruth, said she enjoyed seeing Adelaide's curiosity as she ensured her stuffed goat was healthy.
“She's taking it very seriously, with getting her weights and taking care of her animal,” she said. “I think it's great in order to reduce their fear when they have to go the doctor.”
Adelaide gave Goat an X-ray before checking his temperature.
Amy St. Clair, a nurse practitioner with Blessing Hospital, said the experience was a fun way to ease any fears children might have about health care visits and give them a hands-on approach to learning.
“In our clinic, we want kids to be comfortable with the different things that we need to do to help take care of them,” St. Clair said. “So we're giving them an experience outside the clinic setting to get comfortable with instruments and things that we use to look in their ears and eyes and check their blood pressure — give them a chance to feel things and ask questions so that when they come to our clinic, they'll be more comfortable.”
Chris Turner accompanied his 8-year-old daughter, Ella, and his 5-year-old son, Michael, to each station. He said this was their first Teddy Bear Clinic, and they attend numerous Parents as Teachers events.
“As you can see, they really care about the kids and go all out for the kids to be able to enjoy it — it's extremely interactive,” Turner said.
He agreed that the experience would help his children feel more at ease during doctor visits and introduce them to the medical field. Michael was excited for the chance to make sure “Teddy” was in good health, and his big sister enjoyed the chance to assist with each checkup. Her favorite part was “when Michael put on the glasses” for Teddy.
Lacey and Paul Shepherd were visiting their first stations with their 5-year-old son, Carter, as he cared for his stuffed Triceratops.
“This is our first year coming. Carter was very excited — because Parents as Teachers definitely talked it up to him — so he was just very excited to bring his Triceratops here, which he named “Ghost” when we arrived tonight,” Lacey Shepherd said.
Kylee Meyer brought her 4-year-old daughter, Ruby, so she could perform check-ups on her baby doll, “Big Boy.” She enjoyed the X-ray station most of all, and she was eager to visit the photo booth and check Big Boy's temperature.
“Let's go,” she said with a smile.
Amber Gottman, a nurse practitioner at the Hannibal Clinic, said the experience was a lot of fun for her and the children she met. “It's fun to interact with them and give them the opportunity to pretend to be nurses and doctors,” Gottman said. Adyson Dorsey, 12, was enthusiastic about helping out at Gottman's exam station.
“I'm happy that I get to give the medicine to the kids so their animal will feel better,” Adyson said. “It's fun and the kids really like it.”