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January 23, 2018

Grant from EMMC kickstarts museum exhibit aimed at kids

Courtesy / Eastern Maine Medical Center
Courtesy / Eastern Maine Medical Center
Eastern Maine Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Colette Sabbagh, who chairs the board of directors at the Maine Discovery Museum, is shown here seeing a 'patient' at Saturday's Teddy Bear Clinic. Sources tell Mainebiz that the critter was healthy and needed only a check-up.

Dr. Colette Sabbagh, a pediatrician at Eastern Maine Medical Center, spent Saturday afternoon examining and treating teddy bears and other cuddly critters.

"For three hours … I had a steady stream of patients," she told Mainebiz of the weekend Teddy Bear Clinic at the Maine Discovery Museum in downtown Bangor. It was held to mark the grand opening of an EMMC-funded educational exhibit that re-creates a doctor's office.

"The purpose of the doctor's office was definitely to make kids feel more comfortable at the doctor if it also represents a part of our community," explained Dr. Sabbagh, who serves as president of the museum's board of directors. "The future renovation of the third floor will also have pieces that reflect where we live."

The exhibit was funded with $30,000 from EMMC and a donation from Dr. Marcus Wilkerson and Dr. Terrin Porter of Bangor Children's Dentistry, who also provided free labor. Sabbagh said they were able to construct the exhibit for less than the donated amount.

"We have a lot of generous donors, and we were able to do more with the money than just the exhibit," Sabbagh said.

Sabbagh said she saw a variety of stuffed animals on Saturday, from well-worn old-fashioned bears to Build-A-Bear models sporting flashy clothes and accessories, and even a monster from the animated film "Despicable Me." Their 'parents' included some of her own patients.

Sabbagh started each visit by asking the name of the beloved toy, whether it was a boy or girl, and whether he or she required a routine exam or something more.

"A lot of them needed just a checkup," she explained, "but if they had a sickness or injury they were actually guaranteed to have a diagnosis."

Sabbagh, who has served on the museum's board for eight years, said the exhibit is very realistic, including an X-ray machine youngsters can stick their hand into and see their bones moving. Maine's largest children's museum also features educational exhibits entitled Artscape, Booktown and Amazing Animals.

Summing up her own experience at Saturday's clinic, Sabbagh said, "I had a ball," adding that the doctor's office exhibit will be up for a while. "We expect it to last at least 10 years."

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