'Make Believe' Lessons At Hospital

ST. MARYS — Beginning last week, kindergarten students from Auglaize and Mercer counties learned the ins and outs of a hospital visit as they stopped by Joint Township District Memorial Hospital as part of Make Believe Hospital 2012.

More than 800 area kindergarteners will pass through the halls of Joint Township District Memorial Hospital during its run this year, Joint Township District Memorial Hospital Community Outreach Assistant Coordinator Cindy Gaerke said.

“They come here and they learn about the different areas,” she said. “What they can expect, so they’re informed and they’re not frightened if they come here because of a car accident or breaking their arm or whatnot.”

Their Make Believe Hospital experience also helps keep the children calm when they have to come to the hospital in other situations, she added.

“This way they can tell their parents, ‘This is what they’ll do next,’” Gaerke said. “They remember what they learned — they won’t be frightened because they’ve been acclimated to the different situations.”

During Make Believe Hospital the students travel to different stations manned by personnel in that area of the hospital.

“We expose them to the personnel, so they know everyone is here to help,” Gaerke said. “Ultimately, we want them to know they’re OK and we’re going to take care of them.”

The students traveled through the following eight stations, spending seven minutes at each station: Admissions, laboratory, emergency/ER, surgery, pediatric/pulmonary, healthy lifestyles/nutrition, radiology/X-ray and cardiac.

“We started last Thursday, but we prepare well in advance,” Gaerke said. “We try to make it fun for them.”

She noted students will visit from Wapakoneta, New Knoxville, Anna, Immaculate Conception, Fort Loramie, Jackson Center, New Bremen, Spencerville, Holy Rosary, Minster and St. Marys.

“Different this year was we had learning disabled groups from the Auglaize County ESC and Capabilities,” Gaerke said, noting those visitors were primarily interested in asking hospital personnel about what they had to do to get their job, rather than the hospital experience.

At every station, the visitors received a trinket to take home.

“We give them a bag with Make Believe Hospital coloring book,” Gaerke said.

“They’re going to get something put in at every station — it could be a sticker, pencils, little hearts, electrodes — whatever goes with that station.”

Joint Township District Memorial Hospital has put on the Make Believe Hospital program since 1986, and it is usually held in April.