Teddy Bear Clinic invites kids to explore medical stations, take the “scare” out of emergency care

by Hennepin Healthcare

After a 5-year hibernation, the Teddy Bear Clinic is returning to Hennepin Healthcare, inviting kids and their favorite stuffed animals to visit and learn about going to the clinic or emergency department for care. The free event is in coordination with Doors Open Minneapolis and starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 18 at Hennepin Healthcare’s Clinic & Specialty Center. Participants are strongly encouraged to register prior to arrival, but walk-ins will also be welcomed.

“It’s been way too long since we’ve had our Teddy Bear Clinic, and we are so ready to welcome our friends back to explore medical stations with hands-on activities,” explains emergency physician Dr. Ashley Strobel, who has been integral to the program’s development. “My family has been having our own Teddy Bear Clinics at home with our kids getting dressed up in scrubs and pretending to be doctors and nurses, so they can’t wait to attend the real thing for the first time.”

Teddy Bears (or other stuffed animals/plushies) visiting the clinic will be “admitted” and may receive blood pressure and heart rate checks, injections, stitches, x-rays, or a splint or bandage placed on their paws. In addition to Teddy Bear examinations, sew-ups and repairs, there will also be important injury and trauma prevention activities, free bike helmet giveaways (while they last), and ambulance and fire truck tours for participants.

What:              Teddy Bear Clinic
When:             Saturday, May 18, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where:            Hennepin Healthcare’s Clinic & Specialty Center, 715 South 8th St., Minneapolis, MN 55404. Free parking is available beneath the clinic – the ramp entrance is located at 821 Park Ave S. Minneapolis, 55404.

“We have multiple goals we hope to achieve with this interactive event – but the main one is FUN,” says pediatrician Dr. Ashley Bjorklund, Medical Director of HCMC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, who has worked with Dr. Strobel to plan the event. “That’s how our other goals will be achieved – when they learn about health-related stuff and absorb injury and illness prevention information in a safe setting. And of course, we want kids and their friends to feel comfortable in a clinic or emergency department environment – and understand that people are there who want to help them feel better.”

This may be a special occasion, but teddy bears are welcome in the emergency department or at a clinic visit anytime. In fact, if a child must be seen in the emergency department, providers encourage parents to have their child bring their teddy bear or any item that will add to their comfort (electronic games, favorite toys, a blanket, or a doll). While these distractions can help “cast” out some fears, Dr. Bjorklund also reminds of the importance of being transparent about what might occur to help reduce anxiety.

“Talk to your child in a calm way and remind them that the doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional is there to help them feel better. Be honest about what to expect and reassure them that you are there to support them, too. This is especially important for a child’s biggest fear – the needle.”

Hennepin Healthcare has a “poke plan” to minimize injection anxiety, deploying the use of creams, sprays, medications, and even laughing gas when needed for comfort. Hennepin Healthcare’s Child Life Specialists also play a key role in providing activities to help distract children from painful procedures.

# # #

For more than 125 years, Hennepin Healthcare has successfully taken care of critically injured and ill children. That experience makes a huge difference when a child’s life is at risk. HCMC is a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center with the right people and equipment in place, ready to care for critically injured children from the time of injury through rehabilitation.

Contact: Christine Hill
Media Relations Manager
Hennepin Healthcare
Mobile: 612-919-8711