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Bandages stitches and zebras

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Dan Karns, MD, an emergency department physician at Novant Health Gaffney Medical Center, understands the emergency department can be a scary place for patients of all ages, especially children. He thought about this while spending time with family as they looked through their collectors’ items.

As Dr. Karns tackled a huge pile of brightly colored stuffed animals, an idea brewed in his head. He surveyed the animals, an eclectic collection that included brown puppies, striped zebras and polka-dotted bears. Dr. Karns asked his family if they minded parting with the plush creatures. They granted permission and Dr. Karns rushed the toys to the emergency department.

Dr. Karns discovered a cure for the common fear of emergency departments. From that moment on, he and his team have encouraged younger patients to choose a soft, fluffy friend to accompany them during their visit. They even invite visiting siblings to join in the fun.

Emergency department nurses help their young patients pick the perfect pet. Children who return to the emergency department always remember the animals and usually ask for another. More than 400 stuffed animals have been added for kids to choose from since the initial supply.