Who: Providers at WellSpan ENT & Hearing Services in Greencastle and Chambersburg, including Dr. H. Carter Davidson, Dr. Joshua Dunklebarger, Dr. Anna Grigoryeva, and physician assistants Aubrey Fox, Becky Hissong, Olivia Wertz, Heather Wolfe, and Kyrene Zack.
What: When children come in for appointments for enlarged tonsils, sleeping issues, recurrent strep throat, and other issues with their ears, nose, or throat, the providers make balloon animals to connect with them and ease any anxiety.
Dr. Davidson started making the animals at his practice about six or seven years ago, after he saw a Chambersburg dentist, Dr. Adam Fulton, make them for Dr. Davidson’s kids (Dr. Davidson is a dad of five).
“I told him I was going to borrow his idea and he was happy to show me how he did it,” Dr. Davidson says.
Dr. Davidson’s ear, nose and throat practice has air compressors in every room that are used for suction, so the necessary equipment already was there. All the providers had to do was supply the balloons and learn how to make a few simple creations. Dr. Davidson’s go-to repertoire includes a flower, a dog, a cat, a horse, a sword, and a hat.
Dr. Dunklebarger, Fox and Zack all joined in on the fun after Davidson got started.
Dr. Davidson says on a busy day, he might make 10 balloon creations for kids (and once in a great while, an adult, “if they’re good,” he says with a laugh).
Sometimes kids ask him to make something more challenging. He does his best, but says, “I tell them my dinosaur is going to look exactly like a dog.”
Words to live by: Chelsea Peterson was delighted and surprised when Dr. Davidson recently made a shiny purple balloon dog for her 3-year-old daughter, Tenley, during a visit at his office.
The Upper Strasburg mom of two said, “I had never seen that at a doctor’s office before. She loved it! She’s never seen a balloon animal made before, so it was a whole new experience for her.”
Chelsea said going to the doctor can be a little scary for a child, so the purple balloon dog made the visit fun, adding, “It gave it a positive doctor’s office feel instead of a scary doctor’s office feel. I think she’ll remember that when she goes back, that it’s a nice place and not anything to be nervous about.”
Dr. Davidson said that’s exactly why his team is happy to see a small patient leave the office wearing a balloon hat or cradling a balloon cat.
“They are super excited and it’s something different,” he says.
Dr. Davidson says he often runs into his young patients outside the office, and they know he’s the doctor who makes the balloon animals.
“We see our patients everywhere, which I love,” he says. “People know us, and we know them. I run into kids at football games, and they remember that’s what we do.”