This time of year can be particularly difficult for hospital patients who must spend the holidays in care away from friends, family and festivities.
For the past three years, the healthcare foundation at Glendale Adventist Medical Center has teamed up with the local Bloomingdale's store for its annual Project Hug-a-Bear. Select patients, who are at the hospital for care over the holidays, are given a Bloomingdale's teddy bear as a way to help keep them company.
The tradition continued Thursday morning as employees of Bloomingdale's in the Glendale Galleria joined staff from Glendale Adventist to bring bears to recuperating patients in various hospital wards.
Irene Bourdon, the foundation's president, was handing out teddy bears and said it doesn't take much to do something meaningful.
"There is just something about that soft, cuddly teddy bear that is very comforting," Bourdon said. "Last year, we had one patient who went to sleep every single night with that teddy bear."
According to Bourdon, an anonymous donor came to the foundation looking to offer something special for patients during the holidays. The donor happened to have an affinity for Bloomingdale's bears and decided to donate 25 of them.
The local Bloomingdale's has every year matched the teddy bear donations, with 55 teddy bears given this season. Fifteen of the bears are being held until they can be handed out to patients during Armenian Christmas in January.
Glendale Adventist nurses are tasked with finding patients they feel are experiencing the most difficulty and, in some cases, without family during the holiday season.
Nurse manager Tina Mkrtchyan helped select patients in the comprehensive stroke center.
"They are so emotional. Right away, they are so well that I think it even speeds up the healing process," Mkrtchyan said. "They are [more] in a mood [to take] medication, they are more happy and willing to continue with therapy. It has lots of positive impacts."
Proceeds from the purchase of a Bloomingdale's bear go toward the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit that helps families of children dealing with mental health and learning disorders.
"It's my favorite thing I've done all year," said Kelli Daley, Glendale Bloomingdale's public relations manager, who was also handing out bears. "It's such a special experience to go in there and watch their faces light up when we hand them the bear."
Jeff Landa, firstname.lastname@example.org