LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Doctors and nurses in Longmont spent their Saturday morning treating some very special patients at the new UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital.
“We’ve put on eyes, ears, limbs,” Dr. Jamie Teumer, Medical Director of the hospital’s emergency department, said. “I put on a tail again today.”
No, these aren’t bizarre plastic surgeries, rather stuffed animals in need of TLC at the Teddy Bear Hospital. UCHealth created the event to give families an unique look inside Longs Peak Hospital, which is set to open later this summer, and allow kids to experience a trip to the emergency room without the common fear factor.
“Going to the ER can be overwhelming and scary for kids,” Dr. Teumer told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “This gives us an opportunity to work with these kids so that if they ever come in as a patient themselves, they’ve been here with their teddy bear or whatever animal and we fixed it. They can see how we do things and there’s some familiarity associated with it.”
Hundreds of kids lined up with their favorite stuffed animal or toy to check in their special friend as a patient. A nurse and doctor then diagnosed the fuzzy patient based on the kid’s description of what’s wrong.
“I had one girl bring in a giraffe and tell me she’s worried it’ll grow up to be fat,” Dr. Teumer said. “We talked about the importance of a healthy diet.”
Other teddy bears, lions, monkeys and unicorns were treated with stitches or bandages. Some even had an X-ray taken and kids could take home a paper copy. Dr. Teumer said the experience allows kids to feel more comfortable if they ever have to visit the ER themselves.
“Many times what will happen is they will bring that animal back with them when they come to the ER as their way of kind of relating to their previous experience,” he said. “It gives them a little bit of a calming effect.”
After seeing the doctor, families also checked out fire trucks and ambulances as well as the hospital’s helicopter.
“I like every single part,” Kayda Shupe, one of the youngest visitors to Teddy Bear Hospital, said. “It was really good.”
Kayda and her older brother, Graycen, each had their favorite toys checked out. They said they now know what to do if they have to make a trip to the hospital.
“Bring a stuffed animal,” six-year-old Graycen Shupe said.
UCHealth’s Longs Peak Hospital is a $192 million project just about complete near Highway 119 and County Road 1 in Longmont. The new 210,000 square foot hospital will include a Level III trauma center, emergency department, heliport for emergency transfers and more. It is expected to open in the next few weeks.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 This Morning over the weekend and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.