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Surgical nurse Toni Haffner, left, gives oxygen to a teddy bear belonging to Coby Hardy, a first-grader from Kelliher Elementary School as surgical nurse Dawn Cullifer, middle, explains operating room procedures Friday morning at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. Also pictured is Ty Holthusen, who was eagerly awaiting his teddy bear’s operation. Sanford Bemidji hosted its first Teddy Bear Hospital, leading 65 Kelliher students through the stages of a medical procedure. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Kelliher students learn about surgery

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BEMIDJI – Candy, a 2-foot-tall teddy bear, now has a Bugs Bunny bandage on her belly, indicating the location of her recent surgery.

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Candy was a brave patient, though she was a little scared, said Myah Lossing, 8, playing the role of Candy’s mom.

Myah was among 65 Kelliher Elementary students in first through third grade who took part Friday in the first Teddy Bear Hospital at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.

Students, wearing surgical hairnets and pediatric exam gowns, were led through the stages of a medical procedure.

At pre-op, medical bracelets were filled out for both the child and her bear, indicating how a parent is linked to her child. Each bear was given an affliction, perhaps a broken leg or arm injury. They listened to the bear’s heart on an EKG and learned how surgeons and nurses wash their hands in preparation for operation.

Once in the OR, students watched as Dr. Alan Campbell, a local surgeon volunteering his time, demonstrated a surgery on each bear.

Once their injuries were cared for and bandaged, the patients were taken to recovery and post-op. Here, students were invited to talk about their experiences, color pictures and enjoy some treats.

What was the best part of the day?

“Getting to walk around in these cool scrubs,” said Donna Thayer, 9, whose bear Megan had belly surgery.

“I liked going to the operating room,” Myah said,

The event was held in tandem with Perioperative Nurses Week.

Not only did students learn what to expect before and during medical procedures, but they also were exposed to the range of jobs available in the medical field, said Laura Sittler, administrative director for perioperative services for Sanford Bemidji, which includes both the hospital and the clinic.

“It really shows them how we all operate as a team,” she said. “Not only do they learn about the environment and what nurses do on a daily basis, but they really take with them a very good, rewarding experience.”

The Teddy Bear Hospital will likely become an annual event.

“They’re just wide-eyed,” Sittler said of the students’ enthusiasm. “It’s been going really well.”

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