All stuffed animals were saved at Northwest Texas Children's Hospital's Teddy Bear Clinic Thursday evening. The biennial event welcomed elementary aged children with their stuffed animals to get a first-hand glimpse of what medical professionals do to save lives.
"This is a great way for Northwest to be able to give back to the community and open the doors to be able to have fun at the hospital," said Becky Imel, NWTX child life specialist. "(And) for kids to be able to learn about things like going to surgery, having your labs drawn, getting an X-ray, getting a breathing treatment for the first time -- they're going to be able to do all of that here in the emergency room."
Not even an hour into the 11th Teddy Bear Clinic, more than 125 bears and other diminutive replicas had been seen by hospital staff.
"We opened it up to take care of all teddy bears, but we've got more than teddy bears -- there are lamas, snakes, turtles, dinosaurs -- they have all come out and we're here to help them," Imel said.
From start to finish -- registration and triage to diagnosis, treatment and the pharmacy -- wee caretakers got to hold their favorite toys as they went through the patient process.
Avery, 9, said she wasn't worried when her light blue bunny had a fever and was regurgitating.
"I was brave," she said. "They gave him some medicine and drew his blood. The treated him nice and how I would expect them to treat him."
It was a first-time experience for Avery and her siblings, Isabella, 6, and Caleb, 4 months. Their mother, Nurse Marissa Martinez, said she thought bringing them would serve a dual purpose.
"We've had some hospitalizations, and they've been intimidated," she said. "So I thought I'd bring them to show them what I do for a living so if we ever have to (come) here (as a patient), they're not afraid and they'll know what to expect."
Londyn, 5, and Beckett, 2, brought their stuffed animals, Marshall and Ella. Londyn's bear Ella had a broken paw, but was bandaged and sent home with a prescription.
"This is a lot neater than I thought it would be," said their mother Ashlyn Shubert. "It's really informative to the kids."
Shubert said it was also their first time visiting the specialized clinic.
She said, "I'm here so that my children are able to learn about what happens when they're in the hospital. Hopefully, they're not so scared if that ever happens."
Madison Mayfield, 22, grew up attending the specialized clinic and thought it was time her cousins Lettie, 6, and Lennox, 3, enjoyed the experience.
"I liked taking my teddy bear to the clinic," Lettie said. "He ate the stomach bug. I don't know if they can make him better."
"I grew up coming to this so I thought it would be really, really cool to bring them for the experience also," Mayfield said. "I hope they learn that the hospital is not a scary place and that some day, they might want to work here, that would be cool."
For Tricia Simmons, spending time at the hospital isn't just a "what if," as one of her 2-year-old twin daughters has been in need of medical attention.
"My daughter has been here several times with respiratory issues," she said. "She was born at 29 weeks (and weighed) a pound."
The mother of four children ages 8, 6, and 2 said she wants all of her children to be comfortable at the doctor's office.
"I brought my boys before my daughters were born. It helped (them) see that doctors aren't scary," she said. "Kids tend to be scared at the doctor's office, but during things like this, they can see that doctors are people, too."
"We want to make sure you're comfortable and this is a good way to start," Imel said. "If you can experience the hospital in a fun way and be able to see some of those pieces of equipment and hear some of the terminology before you're ever here as a patient ... hopefully you'll know we're a safe place to come if you need help."