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Handcrafted 'Chester Bears' Provide TLC to Kids in the Emergency Department

An emergency room can be a scary place - especially for children. A group of volunteers at The Chester County Hospital is spreading comfort to little ones visiting the Emergency Department (ED). With help from a local Girl Scout troop, Hospital volunteers are crafting handmade bears to distribute to any child needing a little TLC. Whether children come to the ED for their own health or are waiting for mom or dad, Chester Bears will be there to accompany them during their stay.

Carol Dunigan, Coordinator of Volunteer Services at The Chester County Hospital recognized the popularity of Chester Bears. She says, "As soon as they arrive in the Emergency Department, I am sure they go through all of them each month." The idea of Chester Bears is not new to the Hospital - small bears used to be given to pediatric patients, but Susan Longenecker, a volunteer at the Hospital recently revamped the project by making larger bears with a group of volunteers who donate around 30 bears each month.

Chester BearChester Bears have become more than just ordinary teddy bears, thanks to the help of Brownie Troop #4751. Led by Chrissy Croft and Amy Fetchko, these girl scouts made sure that the bears were made with love. Each Chester Bear is stuffed with a red, felt heart and gold "fairy dust." As they finish stuffing the bears, the girls spin around and make wishes for the children who will eventually receive them. Brownie Keira Connor represented her troop by accompanying Susan to drop off a delivery of Chester Bears. Susan recalled her reaction when leaving the hospital. "Keira turned to me and simply said, 'My heart feels really good.'" About 15 girls, between 7 and 8 years old, belong to the St. Maximilian Kolbe Troop. The girls attend a mix of several area schools including St. Max, Westtown-Thornbury, Collegium and Pocopson.

Betty Brennan, Director of the Emergency Department, has witnessed many children's ED experiences and recognizes their need for comfort. The department is already child-friendly, complete with personalized books geared toward all reading levels and DVD players stocked with fun movies - not to mention a staff trained in pediatric specialties. "This department is pediatric-centered and used to treating children," Betty explains. The Chester Bears enhance the Emergency Department's child-focused approach, and the young patients take the bears home after their stay. Betty says that Chester Bears are a great addition to the department, adding,
"Everything we do for kids, including these bears, makes a big impact."

Volunteers and the Girl Scout troop have been sewing and donating the bears for about nine months. Kathy Stocker, Director of Volunteer Services at The Chester County Hospital, shared a story from a mother of a pediatric patient who received a teddy bear. "The boy was given a Chester Bear while waiting for his mom to meet him in the ED. Now, the boy sleeps with his bear and carries it everywhere he goes," Kathy explains. She adds, "The boy's mother said the volunteers who gave her son the bear were 'angels.'"

The ED provides care to almost 40,000 patients annually who require urgent medical attention. Each treatment room is equipped for treating both adults and children, with special amenities and accommodations in place for pediatric patients and their parents. The department is staffed by board-certified emergency physicians, physician assistants, nurses and clinicians 24-hours a day to treat varying levels of urgent care.

Last Updated: 11/1/2012