Care for ‘sick’ teddies teaches valuable lesson

St John ambulance officer Luke Barker, who is also a University of Otago third-year medical...
St John ambulance officer Luke Barker, who is also a University of Otago third-year medical student, shows Georgia Pettitt (3), a former heart patient, how to listen to her teddy bear Reuben’s heart in the back of an ambulance at a Teddy Bear Hospital community day at the Hunter Centre, Dunedin, on Saturday. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
The latest awareness-raising Teddy Bear Hospital week ended on a high note in Dunedin at the weekend.

A co-ordinator of the week, Elise Forman, of the Otago University Medical Students Association, said Saturday’s events had been "really good".

After the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s event, children and their "sick" teddies could again consult teddy doctors and nurses, in the form of University of Otago medical and dental students.

Dr Julia Pettitt, herself a medical doctor, said the North Dunedin community day had been an "absolutely incredible" chance for her daughter Georgia Pettitt to learn more about being in an ambulance and having her teddy cared for by St John ambulance officer and Otago third year medical student Luke Barker.

"For her it was really fun", and she had a chance to be a teddy doctor as well as patient, Dr Pettitt said.

Her daughter had had a successful heart operation early in her life.

Mr Barker said the hospital week activities had helped children to learn more about medical and dental care and about the ambulance service in a fun way, helping them to relax and to dispel anxieties and any misunderstandings about healthcare.

Organisers said the events ended positively on Saturday, when hundreds of children and their parents swarmed to North Dunedin community day activities at the Hunter Centre, in Great King St, between 10am and 4pm, and at the southern community day, at Carisbrook School.

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