Local Students Attend Make Believe Hospital

ST. MARYS — Children from around the area arrived at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital Thursday and Friday to take part in Make Believe Hospital, an initiative designed to acquaint them with the different departments, equipments, uniforms and procedures they might encounter if they ever need to be in the hospital.

Children were instructed about healthy eating and exercise, given the opportunity to listen to their hearts with a stethoscope, see an IV, try on a cast, see real X-rays of broken bones, and learn about the entire hospital processes.

“X-rays don’t hurt,” said Heather Compton, X-ray technician assistant. “When mom and dad take a picture, they want to see your pretty smile. When we take a picture, we want to see your bones.”

She showed the students multiple X-rays, including showing how pierced ears look, let them feel a skeleton hand, and pointed out areas of the body on a skeleton.

“The whole purpose is to prepare them if they ever have to go to the hospital,” said Sandy Dingledine, hospital outreach representative. “It takes the edge off so they’re not so afraid. They’re not seeing it for the first time and that can take the fear away.”

The program has been an annual tradition for about 15 years, she said.

“It’s always fun to work with the kids,” Dingledine said. “Some of their questions are enlightening. They just make your day, and they all have experiences they like to share.”

Students did shout out experiences of their own or siblings who had been hospitalized, or relatives who work at the hospital.

They also learned about where blood goes after it is drawn, and what questions might be asked during admissions. While the overall message was that most things at the hospital don’t hurt, the nurses, technicians and others were honest with the students.

For example, when asked about whether putting an IV in would hurt, nurse Brittany Henschen said, “Yes but only for a little bit, then we take the needle part out.”