September 9 is National Teddy Bear Day
The inaugural Teddy Bear Clinic in November 2017 was a hit with families and medical professionals alike as about 200 families came through the door to get checkups for their important stuffie friends. Those attendance numbers, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents and children, made it essential to try to make it an annual event. There was never really any doubt that the they would host another clinic, according to Yukon Hospital Foundation president Karen Forward.
“It was really well received by the community, and a few kids noted that if it didn’t happen again, I would be in trouble,” she said with a laugh.
Last year’s event was timed in November, to coincide when visitors could get in with the new fluoroscopy machine. The move to September permits some outside features that Forward explained were in the works. The new Yukon Hospital Foundation campaign is raising funds for a simulation centre that helps train all emergency services staff, so they are partnering with Whitehorse firefighters and hope to have a truck in attendance this year.
The event itself provides a special opportunity for children to develop a positive relationship with hospitals and medical professionals via a surrogate, their favourite stuffie.
“There is a need for kids to visit the hospital, not just for pokes and being sick,” Forward explained. “This is chance to thank our donors and help their kids to have a fun time.”
The full scope of what stuffies will be checked for hasn’t been finalized, but it’s developed in cooperation with the Whitehorse General Hospital as to what can be accessed on the day. But they make sure every stuffie who comes in gets a checkup, and they keep careful count. Each stuffie checks in and gets a hospital wristband; or, in some cases, a necklace.
The event requires from 15 to 20 volunteers, the majority being off-shift doctors and nurses who volunteer their time to help out.
“We are still sourcing volunteers,” Forward said. “It’s really great to have doctors and nurses interact with kids this way.”
Last year, there was a steady flow of visitors all day between the clinic hours of 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and no stuffie was sent home unchecked. The event is open to all members of the public and free due to the support of Goldcorp, Victoria Gold and Yukon Heat. All stuffies are welcome, not just teddy bears. Forward noted that last year there were some octopi, a squid and even a snake. For more information on the Yukon Hospital Foundation’s Teddy Bear Clinic, check out their page on Facebook.