For 13 years, Ken Weeks and his staff at his car dealership have been visting Groves Hospital the Saturday before Christmas and delivering Teddy Bears to patients and staff, and any children that were in the lobby.
But times have changed and new rules forbid such visits.
Weeks said in an interview last week that he and several others dressed like elves in bright red and wandered through Groves handing out Teddy Bears. He said hospital staff enjoyed being included in the give-away, and a now retired nurse there always accompanied them on their rounds.
She was able to hand out Teddy Bears to those who are really ill and could not take chances in picking up an infection.
Weeks said that if he or anyone else was ill, they would not go that day.
Weeks said he received a phone call last week from a hospital official last week stating that he and his staff would no longer be permitted to take over 100 Teddy Bears made especially in Clifford for the big day through the hospital.
The hospital official who called cited privacy reasons, as well has health concerns.
But Weeks said if he happened to recognize someone that he knew while handing out Teddy Bears, he would probably come back and visit another time.
He also added that he knows of another service group in town that had been through the hospital handing out apples and oranges, and wondered why one group was allowed and he and his staff are not.
Groves Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jerome Quenneville said in an interview Dec. 18 that new regulations have forced the changes. He said he knew nothing of the other service group and its delivery.
Quenneville said the Teddy Bears are welcome at the hospital, and staff would be more than willing to hand them out.
But Weeks said Dec. 19 that event was about putting smiles on everyone’s faces, and that includes those who were handing out the Teddy Bears.
He said one man told him that his wife received a Teddy Bear one time, and every time he visited her, she was holding it. That lasted until she passed away, and the man told Weeks that the Teddy Bear provided tremendous comfort for her.
Weeks and Quenneville spoke on Friday, but there was no change in the policy.
Weeks noted that in the past he and his staff have visited seniors’ homes with extra Teddy Bears they have had, and it will be up to his staff if they decide to hand them over to hospital staff or if they visit a seniors’ home this year instead.