A couple of six foot tall stuffed bears will make their first appearance at the Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing’s 26th Annual Teddy Bear Clinic on Sunday, October 5, from Noon to 4 p.m. The Clinic will be held in the Auditorium of Blessing Hospital at 11th Street in Quincy (Hospital main entrance).The new bears are named Flo and Dorsey Brown Bear.

That's right, the Dorsey Brown Bear. Flo and Dorsey Brown Bear replace two smaller bears who are being retired after receiving countless shots from children attending the Teddy Bear Clinic for the past 25 years. Flo is named in honor of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. The Dorsey Bear has been named after yours truly.

I was notified of this kind gesture by Steve Felde at Blessing Hospital's Public Relations Department and I couldn't be more honored. The Teddy Bear Clinic started in Quincy more than 25 years ago after I saw a similar event at the Peoria Zoo with my then 5 year old daughter. While, all I did was bring the idea to Quincy, it has been the dedication of Blessing Hospital and the Blessing Rieman College of Nursing students who have really done all the work over these years.

The Teddy Bear Clinic is free and open to children ages two to 10 and their favorite doll or stuffed bear or toy to help children realize the importance of good health and overcome fears of a health check-up by conducting a check-up on their favorite doll, bear or stuffed toy. Nursing students will interact with each child and their stuffed bear as they use a stethoscope to listen to heart and lungs, apply a bandage to boo-boos and record their bear’s height and weight. Stations will also provide information on safety and poison prevention.

Even if Blessing Hospital’s visiting restrictions are still in place on October 5 due to respiratory illness in the area, children ages 2 to 10 will be welcomed at the Clinic as long as they are showing no signs of illness.

In addition, emergency response vehicles are scheduled to be on-site for children to see, Air Evac helicopter tours will be offered if the helicopter is available, and a limited number of bicycle helmets will be distributed. Refreshments will be provided by Refreshment Services Pepsi and DOT Foods.

Having my daughter at the very first Teddy Bear Clinic is a memory I will always cherish. Now, over 25 years later, I have mom's with their children come up to me and thank me. Then they tell me about when they first came to the Teddy Bear Clinic as a kid with their mother and all the memories they have of those days. It makes it all worth while especially in trying to keep kids safe and healthy along the way.

I appreciate the thank yous but they really need to be directed to the student nurses who have put the event on over the years. So, again, thanks to Blessing Rieman College of Nursing for my namesake bear and for a job well done for 25 plus years.