It’s no picnic

If teddy’s looking a bit peaked this season, you’re in luck. Whitehorse General Hospital is offering health care for bears this week. 
The hospital’s first-ever teddy bear clinic takes place from 10 am. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 18.

Karen Forward, president of the Yukon Hospital Foundation, says the hospital encourages kids to bring in their stuffies (not exclusively bears, by the way – lions, tigers and more are also welcome) for a check-up that includes a shot and an X-ray using the hospital’s brand-new fluoroscopy machine. Forward said the fluoroscopy machine is the major reason for the event.

The hospital recently completed a $600,000 fundraising campaign to buy the machine. It’s an undertaking that started in the summer of 2016, with the hospital’s Skookum Asphalt Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament. Additional funds were then raised during the Festival of Trees.

The machine arrived in mid-October to replace an older model that had lived beyond its usefulness and was no longer serviceable. Forward said the old machine wasn’t fully digital, which meant a radiologist (which the hospital doesn’t always have) was needed to operate it.

The new machine is fully digital and takes static X-rays as well as movie X-rays, which can be useful in a variety of situations. The machine can sometimes be used in surgery or for difficult needle placement. It can also be used to see if someone has an obstruction while swallowing, or to see how a knee joint is moving and where there might be friction.

The machine arrived and was installed at the end of October. Technicians spent the early weeks of November being trained to use it in time for the clinic.

Forward said the hospital had been looking for a way to thank the public, and allow them to see where their contributions went. This fit the bill. 
A teddy bear clinic is more exciting than a ribbon-cutting, Forward said, and it has the added bonus of helping dispel some of the fear and anxiety kids might have around hospitals.

“We wanted to create a fun event to take away fears that might come from the hospital visit,” Forward said. “It’s usually a bit of a scary experience (for kids).”

A number of doctors and nurses are volunteering that day to record the heights and weights of teddies, administer shots to the animals and run the fluoroscopy machine (which will print out “X-rays” for the bears to take home). Teddies in good health will leave with a certificate to that effect. There will also be a photo booth onsite.

So far, response on social media has been great, Forward said. A conservative estimate for attendance is 200.

“We’re really excited to have this event. We’re looking to reach out and say thank you to all.”

For more information check out the Yukon Hospital Foundation Facebook page.

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