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Elmo visits Wesley Medical Center children’s unit

Madelyn Stewart, 3, hugs Elmo during a visit Thursday at Wesley Medical Center. Elmo is in town for “Sesame Street Live” at Intrust Bank Arena.
Madelyn Stewart, 3, hugs Elmo during a visit Thursday at Wesley Medical Center. Elmo is in town for “Sesame Street Live” at Intrust Bank Arena. The Wichita Eagle

Patients at Wesley Medical Center Children’s Hospital had a surprise visitor Thursday when Elmo from “Sesame Street Live” stopped by to meet children who are in the hospital over the New Year’s holiday.

Jerry Dumars, performance director for “Sesame Street Live,” said the production likes to visit a children’s hospital in every town the show travels to. Dumars said the cast tries to meet children who won’t be able to attend the show, which opens Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena.

“It’s just a really nice, uplifting experience,” Dumars said. “We know that the staff is doing everything they can, physically, to take care of the kids, but mentally we’re there to just make it a positive experience.”

Syri Tegethoff, a child life assistant at Wesley, said it helps distract the children who are staying in the hospital and adds normalcy to their lives.

“They’re confined in a hospital, they’re feeling yucky, feeling puny, and then they see this furry friend that they’ve seen on TV for so long and it’s like, ‘Wow!’ ” Tegethoff said.

“They brighten up, they smile.”

Elmo met about 10 patients Thursday at the hospital, which is housed within Wesley Medical Center, going room-to-room and handing out autographed pictures.

Tegethoff said the visits can also help parents, who are also shocked to see Elmo at the hospital.

Monica Nienstedt said her son, Logan, has had to stay in the hospital several times. She said this was the first time something like this has happened.

“It about made me cry,” Nienstedt said.

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