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'Teddy Bear Clinic' eases children's hospital anxiety

The "Teddy Bear Clinic" at Angel Medical Center in Franklin, North Carolina. The program aims to ease children's fears about hospitals and inspire future healthcare workers. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

A program at Angel Medical Center aims to ease children's fears about hospitals and possibly inspire future healthcare workers.

As part of an annual "Teddy Bear Clinic," first-graders from throughout Macon County got an up-close look at a Mission Hospital air ambulance.

"I learned that a helicopter can go about 150 miles per hour," Jude Morgan, a first-grader at East Franklin Elementary School, said.

"It's a great opportunity for the children come in and see the hospital in a non-threatening way," explained program coordinator Kim Watkins, a registered nurse.

"Do you think if you had to come to the hospital you'd be less afraid now?" News 13's Jay Siltzer asked first-grader Hayden Mallin.

"Yes," the 7-year-old replied, "because I know the people are trying to protect me."

For some youngsters, there may be a bigger purpose for this visit.

"Hopefully, maybe one day down the road in their lives, they will decide the healthcare profession is something they'd like to do," Watkins said.

"What would you like to be when you grow up?" Siltzer asked Landon Brannen, who is a first-grader at Trimont Christian Academy.

"An ambulance worker in that," he responded, pointing to the orange and white vehicle.

This may well be a preview of the next generation committed to saving lives.

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