HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s Hugs & Cuddles Program has helped relieve the anxiety of pediatric patients for a number of years.  Launched originally in the Surgery department for kids facing surgery, then expanded in recent years to pediatric patients who are having an x-ray or CT scan, this popular program provides a teddy bear to children at St. Anthony’s for surgery or an imaging test for comfort and support.  Each child gets to take their teddy bear home with them to remind them of their bravery.  

Now the program is being expanded to help pediatric patients who have an Emergency Room visit at St. Anthony’s, thanks to a generous donation from the HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.  The Auxiliary recently contributed $10,000 to the Hugs & Cuddles program to expand the program to pediatric patients who need comfort in the hospital’s Emergency department.  Their donation will provide over 600 teddy bears to the department.

Deb Murbarger, Director of Emergency Services and Convenient Care at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, shared how the teddy bears can help children who receive care through the hospital’s Emergency Room. “Not surprisingly, being in the ER can be a scary time for kids, and we do whatever we can to alleviate that fear as we are providing their care and treatment.  Having these stuffed animals to give to the kids helps them to be more comfortable during their stay, improving the overall experience for them during a difficult time, plus they get to take the bear home.” she said. “We are so grateful to the Auxiliary members for providing the funds to expand the Hugs & Cuddles Program to the Emergency department.”

Kathern Upchurch, the Auxiliary’s Special Events Chairperson, explained why the Auxiliary wanted to make this donation to expand the Hugs & Cuddles program to the Emergency department. “A hospital stay for a child can be a difficult experience. The Auxiliary wanted to reach out to our children with a hug and cuddle and pray that every child feels the comfort and love that our soft little bears can bring! It was our pleasure to fund this project,” she said.

Michael Wall, St. Anthony’s Director of Philanthropy, expressed his appreciation for the contribution from the Hospital Auxiliary.  Wall shared, “Through their operation of the Hospital Gift Shop and hosting of fundraisers throughout the year, the Auxiliary provide generous donations to our healing ministry.  Recent support from the Auxiliary included contributions for the Maternity Unit Renovation project, the Educational Scholarship program, and the Hugs & Cuddles Teddy Bear program,” he said.  “HSHS St. Anthony’s is very fortunate to have a very involved and engaged Auxiliary.”

HSHS St. Anthony’s Foundation is the fundraising organization of St. Anthony’s and was established to ensure the continuing growth, stability and future of health care in this region.  For more information about the HSHS St. Anthony’s Foundation or to contribute to hospital programs such as the Hugs & Cuddles Program, contact Michael Wall, Director of Philanthropy, at (217) 347-1854. 

Photo Caption: The HSHS St. Anthony’s Auxiliary recently donated $10,000 to the HSHS St. Anthony’s Foundation to expand the Foundation’s Hugs and Cuddles program to pediatric patients who need comfort in the hospital’s Emergency department. The donation will provide over 600 teddy bears to the department. Shown left to right are (first row, kneeling): Emergency department representatives Kenny Harris, RN; Samantha Fritschle, ER Tech; and Angelica  Wehrle, RN; (second row, standing): Donna Zerrusen, Auxiliary Vice-President; Mary Jane Koester, Auxiliary Membership Services Chairperson; Marilyn Schaefer, Auxiliary President; Alta Welker, St. Anthony’s People Services Specialist; Deb Murbarger, St. Anthony’s Director of Emergency Services and Convenient Care; and Michael Wall, St. Anthony’s Director of Philanthropy.

Media Contact

Brad Ochiltree

Manager, Marketing & Communications
HSHS Illinois
Office: (217) 464-1161

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