Michael Magro Foundation and NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Pediatric Division created The Teddy Bear Program to provide teddy bears to children who are going through treatments. “The teddy bears really have an incredible impact on the children’s emotions as they undergo a huge battle in their young lives. The feedback we are getting from the nurses and parents is so positive. It has been made a real difference – shifting a scary experience to one of being comforted by a new teddy bear friend.” stated Michael Magro Foundation, Vice President Terrie Magro.
This program has had an impact on hundreds of children, ages 2 through 18, who have received their own “Dr. Bear”. Shifting the focus away from IV’s, needles, and anesthesia and redirecting each child’s focus on their plush Dr. Bear has resulted in calmer treatment experiences, reduced stress for both patient and parent(s) and easier, more positive associations with hospital visits and stays. The teddy bears are small and soft, and are dressed in hospital attire. They are perfect for children of any age, providing something to cling to before procedures and offer comfort as they leave. Hospital staff have noted that both parents and children have noted [during follow up appointments] that the presence of the teddy bears made a positive difference during the treatment experience. The impact for the children has been lasting well beyond treatment day.
Regina Rattinger, a nurse on NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Endoscopy Unit, recalled a young girl who had been very ill, with frequent trips in and out of the hospital. The patient was one in a set of triplets, with two sisters
at home. The Teddy Bear Program provided the young patient with a bear for herself along with two others to give to her sisters. Her mother was grateful for the thoughtfulness – not only for her daughter who was battling an array of medical challenges, but also her sisters at home worried about their sibling. The bears provided comfort and a sense of caring from the hospital staff that went above and beyond the excellent care provided.
The Teddy Bear Program is centered around children and the ability to help a child more easily get through a difficult situation. Rather than the primary memory being needles and fear, they recall the moment they received their new stuffed friend who helped them through their treatments and procedures. The program is growing, reaching out to more and more children with support from Michael Magro Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing direct support to children battling cancer and other catastrophic illnesses and their families. The Teddy Bear Program is one way the organization reaches out to ease the stress and burden each family with a sick child on Long Island experiences.
Michael Magro Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization founded by Paul and Terrie Magro to honor the life of their son Michael, who passed away from leukemia at the age of 13. The Foundation works with the Cancer Center for Kids at NYU Winthrop Hospital, Stony Brook Children’s Cancer Division, and other Winthrop and Stony Brook pediatric specialties where treatment of chronic diseases is ongoing, as well as with the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Southwest Florida. The core programs offered are: Life Essentials [helping families struggling financially during their child’s treatment with non-medical expenses]; Project SOAR [providing support for childhood cancer patients, families, students and teachers when the patient returns to school following long illnesses]; and Bonding With Baby [helping siblings of babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) communicate and bond]. In partnership with The Spencer Foundation, the organization has added Operation Playcation, an initiative to provide inpatient pediatric hospital patients with Playstation 4 units and an array of gaming choices.