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Piedmont Athens Regional Auxiliary Donates $5,000 to Purchase Stuffed Animals for Pediatric Patients

Athens, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2022) – The Piedmont Athens Regional Auxiliary recently donated $5,000 to purchase stuffed animals for children having surgery at Piedmont Athens Regional. These comfort items reduce fear and anxiety and help staff to quickly build rapport and normalize the hospital environment.

Piedmont Athens Certified Child Life Specialist, Deanna Warren, MS, CCLS, prepares and supports children undergoing surgery. Since July 2021, Warren has seen more than 650 children either prior to surgery or during post-surgery recovery.

"When it is time to separate from caregivers and transition to the operating room, children can become very anxious," said Warren. "The stuffed animals provide security and comfort. It is something they can hold tightly before surgery and will also be next to them when they wake up after the procedure. “

In addition to providing comfort, the stuffed animals are used for medical play, allowing the child to play "doctor". Warren shows the patient how to check vital signs, start anesthesia, and perform surgery on the stuffed animal. This type of play desensitizes the medical equipment, allows for some control, and gives the child a better understanding of the process. Once discharged, the stuffed animal serves as a keepsake to remind the patient of how brave they were during surgery.

"When children are more comfortable, it means less medicine is needed to calm them, which leads to better post-operative outcomes. These donated stuffed animals are invaluable in supporting the children having surgery at Piedmont Athens," explained Warren. "Community is important to us and this is one way we support the children in our community. We can’t thank the auxiliary enough for helping make a positive experience for our patients and their caregivers."

The Piedmont Athens Regional Auxiliary was founded in 1964 with 13 charter members. Today, it has 62 members who volunteer in the Pink Posy Gift Shop, at information desks throughout the hospital, at the Oconee Health Campus and Radiology departments, and will soon be at the information desks at the Clay Community Care Clinic. Auxiliary members raise funds through special sales, dues, and the Pink Posy Gift Shop, which are used to benefit Piedmont Athens Regional patients and the community. Since 1964, the Auxiliary has volunteered more than 616,000 hours and donated more than $3.8 million to support hospital initiatives.

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