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“Teddy Bear Clinic” Calms Hospital Fears Through Play

April 4, 2023

“Teddy Bear Clinic” calms hospital fears through play.

Teddy Bear Clinic

A hospital might not seem like a seven-year-old's first choice for a field trip, but for the second graders at Chinatown's Josiah Quincy Elementary School a trip to Tufts Medical Center has become a favorite annual tradition. Since 2017, with a two-year break for COVID, the Office of Community Benefits and Community Health Initiatives (CBCHI) has partnered with Tufts Medicine Pediatrics Child Life Specialists to give kids a look inside what happens during a visit to the hospital.

The clinics are the brainchild of Child Life Specialist, Lauren Maietta, who works with children and their families to ease fears and challenges related to healthcare and medical treatment. Along with therapeutic play, a critical part of child life care is education. Kids who are familiar with the environment experience less of the stress and fear that can accompany a trip to the doctor.

At the start of the visit, the children are given teddy bears who play the role of patients. Throughout the two-hour clinic, the children are introduced to the many different activities and people they might meet on a trip to the hospital. The children take their bears through triage, engage in medical play with real and pretend instruments, take a trip to blood draw and help their stuffed friend get a cast. Even Bob, Tufts Medical Center's facility dog, was there to lend a paw.

With 96 students participating over three days, Maietta is thrilled to have the clinic back in action, and the children are as excited and as engaged as ever. She's even seen former participants back at the Medical Center for treatment with their teddy bears in tow!

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