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St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation

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Heartbeat Bears Bring Comfort to Families

Through a generous gift from the Hillsborough County Medical Association Foundation, 25 Heartbeat Bears were funded to help families of our cardiac patients cope with being separated from their children during extended hospital stays.

A heart recorder is used to capture 20 seconds of a child’s heartbeat and then stored inside the stuffed bear for safekeeping. The heartbeat can then be heard through the toy by simply pressing on the recorder, allowing family members to feel close to their child who may be experiencing an extended stay at the hospital.

Megan Miller, a mother of three boys, including Brooks, shared how a Heartbeat Bear helped her cope during her son’s hospital stay in the Pediatric Cardiac Unit. “During one of the more stressful days at the hospital, I was gifted a heartbeat bear. As I opened it I had tears fill my eyes. I was able to take a small part of my little Brooks home with me at night, which made the extended hospital stay a bit better. When I was missing him during the night and needing some Brooks snuggles, I had Brook’s heartbeat next to me. Being able to hear his heartbeat encouraged me and helped me know he was getting phenomenal care at the hospital. We truly cherished this special gift and will keep him always.”

Due to congenital heart defects, many of our patients are newborns who spend weeks to months recovering in the hospital. This situation is especially hard on the families who cannot stay with their child 24 hours a day due to obligations with returning to work or caring for other children. With the help of a Heartbeat Bear, families can feel close to their children when they are unable to be physically present.

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