Make Believe Hospital Aims to Educate, Comfort

Radiology Technician Diane Gayer, RTR, shows St. Marys kindergartners x-ray images on the computer screen before showing them what bones they were looking at on the skeleton.
Staff Writer

Throughout the course of four days, about 700 kindergartners toured the emergency and urgent care departments of Joint Township District Memorial Hospital as part of the hospital's annual Make Believe Hospital. The goal was to teach the children what they can expect if they ever have to come to the hospital for an injury or illness.

"I think it's great that we get to use the ER and urgent care areas specifically because it tends to be where the kids are coming in if they do need to come to the hospital," said Community Outreach Coordinator Jenni Miller.

In its 33rd year, Make Believe Hospital is something Miller said hospital staff look forward to every year. With a total staff of more than 800 medical professionals, there are plenty of people to help support the educational program but Miller said she often has the same people volunteer for the simple reason that they enjoy teaching the children.

The program has seen more than 31,000 students learn about healthy living and hospital functions throughout its existence. Make Believe Hospital teaches students from 14 local school districts and Miller noted the schools have always given positive feedback. She added that some staff and students look forward to the annual event for a different reason.

"There are some [staff] where their children or grandchildren will go through and they're teaching their kids and their friends," she said.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of the April 16 print edition of The Evening Leader.