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Festival of Trees promotes good health for children

December 05, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Like hundreds of children at Robinwood Medical Center on Saturday, Hagerstown sisters Kelsey and Sarah Winters were given new teddy bears and a lesson in hygiene.

The girls visited the purple plastic Buddy Bear, which showed them the "germs" still on their hands even after they washed their hands.

"You have to wash really, really hard, front and back," Kathy Morrisey told the girls.

The hand-washing lesson was one of many activities for children attending the Teddy Bear Clinic, part of the Festival of Trees fund-raiser at Robinwood Medical Center.

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The Antietam Healthcare Foundation event benefits a special care Level II nursery that will open in stages, as early as March, at Washington County Hospital, said Sandy Pollack, the foundation's executive director.

The nursery will provide care for babies born early or with medical complications. Unless the baby is extremely premature (born before 32 weeks gestation) or requires surgery, he or she can be cared for in Hagerstown rather than sent to a Baltimore hospital.

Fountain Head Country Club helped provide a site Friday night for the festival's Sugarplum Dance after the medical center had cleanup issues when a water main break affected Hagerstown water customers' water supply and pressure, Pollack said.

On Saturday, the events were back on track, with about 400 children having the opportunity to learn about various health issues such as nutrition and hand washing.

"Hopefully, the kids are learning the importance of hand washing to keep them healthy during the holiday season," said Morrisey, Washington County Hospital's director of infection control.

Children saw Morrisey and Buddy Bear twice.

During the first visit, they put their hands under Buddy Bear's special black light so they could see the white spots representing germs on their hands. Morrisey had children rub a lotion on their hands to simulate the "germs."

After washing their hands, the children returned to Buddy Bear.

Several parents were surprised to discover their children's hands still had white spots on them.

Wendy Winters, mother of Kelsey, 8, and Sarah, 6, jokingly said she might need to invest in a scrub brush.

Kelsey, who lathered her hands up good before returning to Buddy Bear, said she might use lots of soap in the future and scrub more.

To give them an idea of how long it should take for them to properly wash their hands, Morrisey suggested they sing "Happy Birthday" or "Jingle Bells" while washing.

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