Let’s Pretend Hospital hosts area 1st graders

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Cullman County first graders participate in the Wallace State Nursing Department’s Let’s Pretend Hospital. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Hospitals are nothing to be scared of. That’s the message the Wallace State Department of Nursing’s Let’s Pretend Hospital aimed to deliver this week. Around 1,000 first graders from across Cullman County went through the Let’s Pretend Hospital Tuesday through Thursday.

Since 2008, Wallace State Nursing students have used the “hospital” as a way to reach children, to get them familiar with what might otherwise be scary situations. The Let’s Pretend Hospital featured a friendly, safe version of an emergency room, ambulance, operating room, x-ray room and a “germ room” (where kids learned the importance of washing their hands) and visit with a doctor and firefighter.  

“The nursing department students from first semester through fourth semester transform our nursing department into a pretend hospital and all of our nursing faculty helped, too, so it’s a very fun week for us for students and faculty to get together,” said Wallace State Nursing Instructor Heather Ashley. “What we want to do is teach these first graders that the hospital isn’t scary and what to expect if they do have to go to the hospital. We also have Hanceville Fire that comes and volunteers their time to teach the first graders about fire safety and what to do if they see a fireman. Our overall goal, too, is for the first graders to be educated, and it helps our students learn how to teach to the pediatric population also.”

Ashley said an estimated 500 nursing students participated in this year’s Let’s Pretend Hospital, with 12 faculty members helping the students. She also thanked those outside of Wallace State who helped with the three-day event.

“We have Cullman Regional that partners with us and donates bags and coloring books for the students, and then Children’s Hospital also partners with us and donates the surgical masks that the students wear when they go in the operating room,” she said. “We’re just happy that we can give back to the community. It’s like a community service project; in teaching these first graders, it helps them understand if they do have to go to the hospital, and also our students learn from it, too. We feel it produces a better nurse because they’ve gained this pediatric education experience.”

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com