Teddy helps Clodagh bear hospital

She wasn’t really enjoying her stay in hospital — until she got a bear hug and a cuddle from her new friend.

Clodagh Mulhare, aged 11, was one of several young patients at Cork University Hospital yesterday who got a new teddy bear as part of a very special initiative.

And Clodagh, who just hours earlier had been diagnosed with diabetes, said her new cuddly toy will help keep her company in CUH until she gets home to Castlemartyr in Co Cork next week to see her favourite teddy, Snowflake.

“This little bear is like a security blanket for her now,” said her mum Valerie. “The present of the bear will help make this time in hospital a memorable time for her rather than a miserable time.”

Clodagh’s special hospital bear was one of hundreds which were donated to the CUH Charity by the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) project yesterday.

Established in May by the Freemasons of Ireland, TLC aims to distribute some 35,000 of these specially made, clean-wrapped teddies to every hospital emergency department in the country where children are treated.

Medical staff, at their discretion, can give the teddies to children who present at emergency departments to help calm and distract them. The children are allowed keep the teddies while in hospital and then take them home.

Eric Waller, TLC chairman and past grandmaster of the Freemasons of Ireland, said the teddies help soothe the children and calm parents, allowing medics to get on with their job.

“Freemasonry is a caring organisation and this is what we do,” he said. “This is 95% funded by our members and this is an open-ended commitment. We will deliver bears to hospitals for as long as they are needed.”

Dr Gerry McCarthy, a consultant in emergency medicine at CUH, said the teddies really help the medical teams during what can be an enormously stressful time for a child in an emergency department. “The children didn’t know bad things happened, before the bad thing happened to them,” he said.

“Sometimes when they arrive in here, they are not with their main carer. They don’t have their comforter or their cuddly toy with them. Their whole day has fallen apart. So the idea of being able to take a fresh, clean, wrapped cuddly teddy, and give it to the child, is really helpful for us. To be the bearer of this bear helps us win over the child’s confidence and get on with the job of treating them.”

Mr Weller said they hope to have the TLC project rolled out nationwide by next month.


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