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USF College of Nursing Students and Alumni Bring Teddy Bears to Tampa Bay Area’s Hospitalized Children Over the Holidays

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Tampa, FL (Jan. 24, 2013) – It’s not much fun to be a child in a hospital, especially during the holiday season, but the University of South Florida College of Nursing brought some relief and joy to pediatric patients this past season.  Cuddly teddy bears were dressed to match the uniforms USF nursing students, who delivered the bears to hospitalized children to brighten their stays. Joining the students were members of the college’s faculty, staff, and alumni who provided the custom teddy bears as part of the college’s B.E.A.R.S. (Bulls Encouraging and Assisting through Research and Scholarship) program. 

“B.E.A.R.S. has been a huge success,” said Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN, senior associate vice president of USF Health and dean of the College of Nursing. “The B.E.A.R.S. initiative showcases the USF College of Nursing’s mission in the Tampa Bay community through our powerful hospital and corporate partnerships for wellness, education and research.”

This fall, the USF College of Nursing created the B.E.A.R.S. Program as an effort to provide alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends with a new way to support their alma mater and make a significant impact in the community. The program helps showcase the college’s commitment to positively transform healthcare and quality of life in the Tampa Bay region, and it’s an opportunity to raise crucial financial support for the USF College of Nursing.  

 “We had a great turnout this past December at our hospital partners: Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Florida Hospital Tampa, and Tampa General Hospital. Patients in the pediatric, intensive care and mother/baby units were extremely happy to see us with early holiday gifts,” said Edwin Hernandez, assistant director of alumni relations at the College of Nursing. “Because of the overwhelming success of this year’s B.E.A.R.S. program expressed by patient recipients and our fabulous hospital partners, the College of Nursing plans to make this an annual event.”

Teddy bear deliveries for 2012 included: 

On Nov. 30, 2012, 27 volunteers delivered 50 bears to Sarasota Memorial Hospital

On Dec. 18, 2012, 26 volunteers delivered 50 bears to Florida Hospital Tampa 

On Dec. 20, 2012, 20 volunteers delivered 75 bears to Tampa General Hospital

 “It was gratifying to see so many smiles on the faces of both the children and the nursing students,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie. “That emotional connection between patient and caregiver makes all the difference.”

 “We are excited to have a partnership with USF and are thrilled to have been a part of this wonderful initiative,” said Stephanie O'Bryon, RN, MSN/ED, director for clinical practice at Florida Hospital Tampa. “Patients would light up with joy as the bears were delivered.” 

“TGH and USF have a strong teaching relationship,” said Janet Davis, Chief Nursing Officer with Tampa General Hospital. “Thousands of USF student nurses have been trained at TGH, and we were so pleased that the College of Nursing students, faculty and alumni took the time to visit our young patients during the holidays.” 

The teddy bears were donated by Christopher J. Davis, president of LAD Enterprises, Inc., a generous supporter of the college. This collaboration ensures that 100 percent of the funds raised by the B.E.A.R.S. program support the USF College of Nursing strategic priorities in research and scholarship. To date, the program has raised over $11,000 through the sponsorship of bears by the college’s community of donors. The College plans on making this an annual tradition. USF nursing students and alumni will deliver more than 125 customized teddy bears to patients at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

USF Health
USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a global research university ranked 50th in the nation by the National Science Foundation for both federal and total research expenditures among all U.S. universities.

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800,000 patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s largest, safest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care clinics and physician groups, laboratory and diagnostic imaging centers, to home health and skilled nursing & rehabilitation. Sarasota Memorial is the only hospital in the Suncoast region (Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties) ever to rank in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” and HealthGrades “America’s 50 Best Hospitals” lists. Strategic partnerships with a number of academic medical institutions bring teaching, research and new treatments to our community. In addition to the BayCare alliance, some of our other affiliations include: All Children’s Hospital-Hopkins (pediatric care); Florida State University (medical students); USF College of Nursing (nursing students); and Moffitt Cancer Center (complex cancer care and clinical trials).For more information, visit:

Florida Hospital Tampa
Florida Hospital Tampa is a not-for-profit 475-bed tertiary hospital specializing in cardiovascular medicine, neuroscience, orthopaedics, women’s services, pediatrics, oncology, endocrinology, bariatrics, wound healing, sleep medicine and general surgery including minimally invasive and robotic-assisted procedures.  Also located at Florida Hospital Tampa is the renowned Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute, a recognized leader in cardiovascular disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and leading-edge research.  Part of the Adventist Health System, Florida Hospital is a leading health network comprised of 22 hospitals throughout the state.  For more information, visit

Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General is a 1,018-bed academic medical center on the west coast of Florida that serves as the region’s only center for Level I trauma care, comprehensive burn care and adult solid organ transplants. It is the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

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