Cook Children's Hospital is at the cutting edge of treating cancer, but its latest addition is helping patients one stuffed animal at a time.
For the first time in its history, Build-a-Bear Workshop has opened up shop inside a hospital, much to the delight of patients such as 3-year-old Bella Cabrera, who has leukemia.
"This is a lot like my puppy," she said while grasping her new stuffed animal.
Picking out her puppy, stuffing her and selecting an outfit is a process that takes less than an hour, but the hospital says any amount of time they can get their minds off of being sick is time well-spent.
"It's more exciting sometimes then the stuff that happens around here," said Kristie Opiola, child care specialist. "'Will I be poked? What kind of medicines do I have to take' -- all of that stuff."
The animals provide a sense of normalcy and give patients a chance to work through things.
"They get to replay out some of the emotions or feelings while they were here [in the hospital] and put some resolution on it so it's not so scary anymore," Opiola said.
The hospital asked patients, their families and staff about what other retail shops and restaurants they should bring into the hospital. Build-a-Bear was immensely popular.
The official grand opening of the hospital's Build-a-Bear Workshop is Tuesday.