Comfort frogs help child victims heal at ETMC

Brenda McBride, clinical social worker at ETMC Behavioral Health, demonstrates to her son Jackson, 5, how the comfort frog works. ETMC received two comfort frogs thanks to a donation from the ETMC Foundation.

Thanks to a donation to the ETMC Foundation, two comfort frogs are now part of the therapeutic care at ETMC.

One of the very large, bright green stuffed animal frogs lives within ETMC Tyler’s SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) room in the emergency department, while the other is at home at the ETMC Behavioral Health Center.

The frogs, named Lilly and Biscuit, are designed to help a child who has suffered abuse feel safe to begin his or her recovery. 

“Just seeing the frogs in an exam or therapy room makes you smile,” said Marty Wiggins, director of the ETMC Foundation. “Of special importance are the frogs’ pink feet, which are weighted, so that they can give wrap-around hugs and help support the child through treatment.”

The two Comfort Frogs were funded by the summer 2016 ETMC Tyler Junior Volunteers. These high school teens spent six weeks volunteering in a variety of ETMC departments and participating in the Junior Volunteer Leadership Academy, which provides lessons for life and future careers. In addition, they held a pancake supper at The Diner, which netted $2,100 for their selected ETMC cause: helping pediatric patients at the ETMC Behavioral Health Center and additional areas.

At the junior volunteers’ closing event this summer, the first comfort frog, Lilly, was presented to Brenda McBride, a clinical social worker who heads the Behavioral Health Center's Employee Assistance Program and serves as an adviser for the pediatric and adolescent inpatient units. The teens also gave 26 handmade fleece blankets to the Behavioral Health Center as part of their summer project. 

“When kids have been hurt by others, they are often afraid of all adults,” McBride said. “The comfort frog at BHC now gives them a friend that they can hold and love as we build relationships of trust and healing.”

Maria Kulma, ETMC Tyler’s vice president of patient services, said Biscuit is now part of ETMC’s care team for sexual assault victims.

“The SANE nurses who perform the forensic clinical exams for children and adults can utilize the frog to help the patient feel safe and less afraid," Kulma said. "It truly does add an extra measure of comfort to the process, as we help patients begin their healing.” 

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