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Teddy bears' hospital to cure children's fear of going to the doctor's

(Vienna, 9th December 2013) The aim of the "Teddy Bears' Hospital" project is to cure children of their fear of going to the doctor’s or of a hospital stay. On Monday, 16th, and Tuesday, 17th December, the hospital will be opening its doors once more to all cuddly toys (dolls will also be examined and treated) – and will do so each day from 1 pm to 4 pm at the Viennese Medical Association (Weihburggasse 10-12, 1010 Vienna). This is aimed at children from five to eight years. In the mornings of both days this campaign is being run exclusively for schools.

"The campaign is to help kids understand hospital routine in a fun way without the focus being on them. The plentiful positive feedback shows that the children are mostly much less afraid of going to the doctor’s afterwards," reports Bert Engelhardt of the Austrian Medical Students' Association (AMSA). He is head of the organising team at the Teddy Bears' Hospital that the AMSA is running in collaboration with the MedUni Vienna, the Viennese Medical Association and the professional association of Austrian pharmacists.

50 "teddy docs" per "shift" – students at the MedUni Vienna – will be on duty to examine and treat the sick or injured cuddly toy companion. The course of the afternoon will be made as realistic as possible: the cuddly toys will take a seat in the waiting room together with their "caregiver", from there the children will be "transferred" with their loved ones to the respective stations depending on the type of the complaint – there is also an in-house pharmacy where, at the end, prescriptions can be redeemed for creams, capsules or herbal tea.

From admission via the operating theatre to the dressing station
Upon admission the cuddly creature’s details ("how tall?", "how heavy?") and case history are taken. Diagnostics comes next. There is an ECG to measure the heart rate, an X-ray station, ultrasound and the possibility of a computer tomography. "And there are teddies available in the operating theatres, which can be opened up and sewn back together again," says Engelhardt. Finally, nearly every cuddly toy gets a bandage at the dressing station. There is also a dentistry clinic and a first aid station with ambulance.

At every station the children will have the opportunity of acting as the assistant of the doctor treating the patient, and helping: they can take a blood sample and also practise first aid, can operate and listen to their own teddy with the stethoscope. Each cuddly toy will spend roughly an hour being treated, during which the children will get to know how a hospital operates and the tasks doctors perform in a fun, interactive way.

There is no need to book; the organisers only ask that you bring a change of footwear (slippers, trainers). There are also spare cuddly toys for people who just happen to drop in at the Vienna Medical Association.

Teddy Bears' Hospital on 16 and 17 December 2013 (1 pm – 4 pm, free entry – suitable for children between 5 and 8 years), Wiener Ärztekammer [Viennese Medical Association], Weihburggasse 10-12, 1010 Vienna.