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Tour takes the trauma out of visit to hospital

May 06, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

They saw X-rays, bedpans and blood pressure cuffs, but the Salem Avenue Elementary first-graders touring Washington County Hospital seemed most fascinated with the tonsils.

Yes, real tonsils. Once lodged in someone's throat, now filling up a jelly-sized jar.

"This is what your tonsils look like. They're real big because they're filled with those bad germs sometimes," said Carolyn Carder, lab manager at the hospital.

Some of the students grimaced.

"Eew. I don't like them," said Tiffany Vincent, her brown ponytails bobbing.

Andrew Ebersole raised his hand when Carder asked if anyone in the group had their tonsils removed.

"February 1st, on Friday," he said.

Every year, the hospital invites county first-graders to see what happens behind its, for some youngsters, intimidating walls.

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"It's an attempt at demystifying what the hospital's like," spokeswoman Maureen Theriault said.

On Friday, the hospital hosted about 100 students from Salem Avenue Elementary School.

Walking through the sterile-smelling hallways, Mary Ann Enamait's class politely kept their voices to a whisper at their teacher's instruction.

"There are sick friends here so you have to be very quiet," she said.

Kelly Hott, a nursing assistant on the medical and surgical floor, explained the elements of a pediatric patient's room. She showed the students where parents sleep, in a bedside chair that folds into a cot.

Suzanne Buhrman, a radiographer, gave students a tour of the X-ray room. She showed them X-rays of a Teddy Ruxpin, a tractor, Thomas the Tank Engine and even Buzz Lightyear.

"That's what he looks like on the inside," Buhrman said.

When she put up an X-ray of a crab, one girl asked if it pinched her.

No, the crab was asleep for the procedure, Buhrman said.

Buhrman then showed them what it's like to have an X-ray taken. She put Brandon Diehl on the table, loaded purple film into a slot beneath him and draped a white gown over him.

But when it came time for the X-ray, Buhrman only pretended to take the picture.

"Now you guys are ready. You know what to expect," she said.

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