During September and October, the footsteps and giggles of students could be heard up and down the halls of Cass County Health System. 186 first grade students from the Atlantic, Griswold, and CAM school districts visited the hospital and clinics to learn more about healthcare.
First-grader Lauren Comes pretends to get ready for a tonsillectomy under the direction of Jena Waters, R.N.(Photo submitted)
Britney Weirich, Human Resources Office and Wellness Assistant for Cass County Health System, organizes the field trips, which have been a tradition for decades. “The students love seeing the hospital in action,” says Weirich. “We want them to feel assured that we are here to take care of them, and we hope to reduce their anxiety about hospitals by giving them a fun, positive experience with our caring staff.”
With the assistance of the Cass County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the first graders are taken on a tour that highlights areas such as the Atlantic Medical Center, Emergency Department, cafeteria, laboratory, and the nursery. The classes visit one at a time, which also allows the kids a chance to stop by and see family members who work at CCHS.
During the tour, the students also participate in a mock tonsillectomy. Jena Waters, R.N. and Quality Specialist, guides them through the steps of preparing for surgery and recovery. She shows the students x-rays, and explains what kinds of medical equipment they might see as a patient. During the mock tonsillectomy, the kids get involved by playing different roles including admissions clerk, doctor, nurse, patient, parents, or lab technician.
No tonsillectomy—real or mock—would be complete without a cold treat. The kids all enjoy a little ice cream, and take home a bag of goodies including a band-aid, pencil, hospital-themed coloring book, medical gloves, bar of soap, and a surgical cap. “During the tour and skit, the students are learning that we’re here to help them, but they’re also being exposed to a number of healthcare careers, which could inspire them to pursue an education in healthcare,” says Weirich. “We’re very thankful for our Auxiliary’s help, and that the schools make this a priority each year.”