Fourth-graders at Jefferson K-8 School may be using computers and other electronic devices to communicate, but they spent part of their school year communicating via paper and pen with pen pals at St. Joseph Health Center and other Humility of Mary Health Partners facilities.
Patty Rush, public relations specialist at the hospital, said the 50 students and employees at the hospital have been pen pals during the school year and had the opportunity to meet one another last week during a visit by the students to the hospital.
Rush said the primary purpose of the trip is for students to meet their pen pals, as well as for employees to meet the students, some for the first time.
''Some employees visited the school earlier this year to meet the students,'' she said.
The visit included an interactive project, a photo booth, educational tour and lunch before the children headed back to school. The pen pal program and field trip are sponsored by the St. Joseph Mission Committee.
Sister Dianne Tress, director of mission integration at St. Joseph, presented each student with a book bag to conclude their visit.
Rush said the tour included a visit to the SimLab, where educator Mike Kerr demonstrated the latest in medical education technology - a mannequin that simulates the human body in breathing, blood flow, expression of pain and other bodily functions.
The students also heard from Dr. Frank Beck, director of St. Elizabeth's general dental residency program, who spoke on dental hygiene.
Rush said the students could also visit the Smile Station dental van for more information about taking proper care of their teeth, and also toured the HMHP Mobile Intensive Care Unit.
''Jefferson is St. Joseph's adopted school. This is the fifth year for the pen pal program between the school children and hospital staff,'' said Rush.
She explained that the mission committee and hospital employees also sponsor other activities throughout the school year, such as a gift bag with bath time products including a towel, wash cloth, body wash, shampoo, a collection of school supplies, as well as a food drive.
Throughout the year, professionals from the hospital make presentations to the students on various health topics.