Healthy You - Every Day

Virtual Magic Made With a Pink Teddy Bear and a GoPro

Petunia the Pink Teddy Bear Helps Lead Students Through LVHN's First Virtual Health Care Explorers' Day


NOTE:  The following information was published July 7, 2020. For current COVID-19 information, visit

For the first time in the program’s six-year history, LVHN Health Care Explorers Day went virtual. Due to current restrictions preventing in-person events, physicians with Lehigh Valley Health Network found a creative way to host a virtual field trip inspiring students to one day pursue careers in health care.

Follow the journey along with seventh grade students from St. Thomas More School in Allentown.

Introducing Petunia

Along with teddy bear patient Petunia, gynecologic oncologist Martin Martino, MD, and David Burmeister, DO, Chair, Department of Emergency and Hospital Medicine, took students through the hospital and demonstrated the role of different health care providers they encountered on the way.

Burmeister set the stage for the field trip with a reminder that LVHN is a safe place to receive care, and our colleagues are ready to give patients, like Petunia, the best possible care and experience.

Experiencing abdominal pain, Petunia arrived at LVHN by MedEvac helicopter. Her journey through the hospital was about to begin.

Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute

While Martino was in the middle of a discussion on the importance of the HPV vaccine in preventing cervical cancer, he received a page notifying him of Petunia’s arrival in the emergency room.

He and his colleagues rode in an ambulance to meet Petunia at the helipad and, with the help of the MedEvac team, transported her to the emergency room (ER) at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest.

Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital

Petunia was seen in the ER and then transferred to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the community’s only children’s hospital, where she was evaluated by Kris Rooney, MD, pediatric hospitalist, and her team. They determined that Petunia needed emergency surgery for appendicitis.

While they visited Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the students met Amy Slenker, MD, infectious disease specialist, who educated the students about the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute

Before Petunia was cleared for surgery, she needed an echocardiogram to ensure her heart was healthy. Robert Biggs, DO, cardiologist with LVPG Cardiology, demonstrated the anatomy of the heart for students and their families during the virtual trip through Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute.

Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence

Finally, it was time for Petunia to have her surgery. Martino prepared to perform lifesaving single-port robotic surgery. Lucky for Petunia, she found herself at Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence, with one of the largest, most advanced robotics program in the region. Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence is one of just 15 sites in the world to acquire the da Vinci SP® (single-port) robotic surgery system, which students had an opportunity to see during their virtual field trip.

After a successful surgery, Petunia was reunited with her family and began her recovery.

Exploring a career in health care

For students, the virtual field trip was an opportunity to see what often happens behind closed doors in the hospital. For physicians, this was an opportunity to show them not only the lifesaving work that occurs daily at LVHN, but also a chance to show them how much fun they have in their jobs.

Martino hopes that this is just the start of the virtual field trip program, and hopes to expand the opportunity to include seventh graders from Lehigh and Northampton counties in the fall.

Watch the video on Facebook.

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