Montefiore youth become the doctors

Yeasmain Gaffer watches as her daughter Alisha Gaffer, 2, treats her teddy bear during the teddy bear clinic held at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore on Wednesday, March 10.

Bubblegum the teddy bear suffers from cancer and has gotten into a horrible skating accident.He needstreatment immediately. Fortunately for Bubblegum, the youngsters at Montefiore Children’s Hospital where on call to treat the furry patient.

On Wednesday, March 10, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore celebrated Child Life Month by running a Teddy Bear Clinic in each of the playrooms throughout the hospital.

Each youngster, in the 200-bed hospital, received his or her own teddy bear and worked with a Child Life specialist to learn how to treat their patients.

The purpose of the clinic is to help educate youths on various treatments they may encounter, clarify misconceptions, and introduce coping techniques.

“We will ask them things like, what will the bear do while getting an IV, how do we find the vein, does the bear need to sit still and what are some remedies if the bear gets scared,” said Meghan Kelly, director of the Child Life department.“We explain some of the things they may not understand by letting them treat the bears with the toy medical kits and some regular medical supplies.”

According to Kelly, the clinic gives the children the ability to explore their own treatments and be in control, instead of always being a patient and seldom feeling like they have any control over what is happening to them.

“They will mimic what they learn here and apply it to their treatment,” Kelly said.“The teddy clinic gives them a chance to work out their feelings and express themselves.”

At the Children’s Hospital, the youths are encouraged to participate in medical play on a regular basis.The Child Life specialists also use the toys as a preparation.

“If a child is going in for a procedure, we have the specialist visit them ahead of time to act the procedure out,” Kelly said.“Play is a great way for the children to learn.”

Teddy Bears for the clinic were donated through Starlight Children’s Foundation and Bear Givers.

“The teddy bear is the universal symbol for comfort.Using them helps to eliminate fear,” said Joseph Sprung, chairman of Bear Givers.“We make sure there is at least one bear for every child when we donate.”

Jessica Morales, of 225th Street and Bronxwood Avenue, was thrilled to watch her daughter, Synaya Acevedo, 6, interacting with other children and helping to treat the bears.

“This is wonderful for her,” Morales said.“She always kept a doll in her room and she will tell me, ‘Mommy, she has a straw in her arm just like me.’This is helping her so much.”

Through the care of Diamonisha Martinez, 13, Bubblegum received treatment and is on her way to recovery, as are all the teddy bears treated that day.

“It’s a great way to clear up why they are here,” said Child Life specialist Lindsey Davis.“It’s a good activity for all ages and a nice way to empower them.”

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