The Definitive Word on the Polar Bears

Given the attentiveness of the UCLA team to all of our questions and concerns, it shouldn’t surprise me that nurse Joyce took action upon reading my ruminations on the polar bears.  The following e-mail from our friends at the Atrium Corporation can stand as the definitive verdict on said bears:


Thanks for your email and hopefully you can forward this to the parent and families who asked the question.  The bears in question are generic (not necessarily polar bears, just white because of color constraints in manufacturing).  They hail from some original bears from a long time ago (approximately 20 years) that were cute, cuddly, fuzzy and white used in one of our nursing trade shows and drawn as give-a-ways or door prizes.  They were also part of a campaign of “give a patient and/or nurse a hug” with a picture of the same bears on buttons.  So, you see, bears have been around for a long time on our products and promotion and education materials.  We did have pencils and alphabet blocks for a period of time on the pediatric drains instead of bears. 


We’ve never considered bunny rabbits or balloons, but the point was to make the complex technology that is part of this “simple chest drain” less “scary”  not only for the kids as patients but also for their parents as they see their children vulnerable and sick in the hospital setting.  We have had people debate whether the graphics have a place in the highly technical world of medicine and the importance of the chest drain and its function.  In essence, such non treatment or care “marketing images” don’t belong.  We strongly disagree and have demonstrated our commitment and devoted 25 years to this life saving device and pulmonary science keeping it the highest quality at best price.  When was the last time you had a performance or functional issue with an Atrium Chest Drain?


Equally important from that marketing point of view- is that the decision makers, buyers and procurement system of the hospital could care less about our bear graphics in influencing their technical and cost decision.  So the end receiver of the technology- the patient may or may not appreciate the graphics design but they were not involved in the decision to use or buy the device.  In almost 25 years, I can count on one hand the number of people who have expressed any negative feedback on the graphics; on the positive feedback side we’ve had overwhelming response of the human connection and comfort the bears bring to the family and nurses using or viewing the chest drain.


Most importantly, it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what goes inside and how that simple plastic box from Atrium Medical does its job day in and day out, without compromise, without problems, 60 parts that work flawlessly over a Million times each year for you and your patients.  That’s not marketing or sales, that’s engineering and quality.  When you combine that with the window dressing it’s a pretty impressive package, don’t you think?


Thanks again for your question, keep doing what you do for your patients, we all know it’s not getting any easier and thanks for letting us play a role in their recovery and health.  We love it!


Ted Karwoski


Senior Vice President of Research and Operations


Atrium Medical Corporation

5 Wentworth Drive

Hudson, New Hampshire  03051



I’ve thanked Mr. Karwoski for his input and stand firm in my opinion that Atrium is by far my preferred brand of chest pump.  However, it does seem a bit denigrating to reduce these remarkable creatures to “generic bears”—they’ve taught themselves to fish with poles—at least dignify them with a species!  That said, I’m glad the company focuses more on the internal workings of their product than the graphics outside, though if they ever reconsider it, I’ve come to think that an elephant or perhaps an octopus would be a more friendly representation for this suction-based device.  If they’re receptive to my free input, I’ve also been kicking around ideas for a slogan (“Baby, do we ever suck!”), but perhaps it’s best to stick to my current line of work.  All fun aside, thanks Atrium for a great product that allowed Rudy’s chest to drain so quickly that it could be closed up ahead of schedule and the threat of infection greatly minimized.  I have to imagine there are countless little gizmos attached to Rudy right now quietly doing what very intelligent people have designed them to do so that he can live.  So many people to be thankful for.


The words of Jimmy Buffet ring true: “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”  In the midst of the seriousness of Rudy’s situation, we are grateful for things that lighten the burden.  This morning, we received encouragement that the creatinine count dropped from 2.4 to 2.2, so his kidney function seems to have reversed its trend.  Nurse Christine washed him all up and after moving the blood pressure cuff to his leg was able to put him in a shirt for the first time after routing all of the lines and tubes appropriately.  He’s more and more expressive each day but it’s bittersweet to watch his face scrunch up and his legs kick in a crying fit but have him unable to make a sound.  I can’t imagine we’ll complain about any noise he makes once they take the chest tube out.

7 thoughts on “The Definitive Word on the Polar Bears

  1. I do not know why, but I am disturbed deep in my spirit that the chest drain maker-place spent so much time selecting and eventually defending, their choice of their “generic” bears on their equipment. I wonder what little animals lost out in that debate Those must have been some raucous staff meetings. . And why the fishing poles? Why aren’t these bears getting their fish like the rest of us – from McDonalds? I guess the image of a big fish impaled on the claws of a cute little “generic” bear would be counter to the fuzzy-wuzzy images they are trying to convey to children who don’t even know what a bear is, let alone have the eye site to see it….:) Go Rudy!

  2. I can rest easy now knowing the debate is settled. By the way, did the floor ever get cleaned? Or did Trish send you out for a Swiffer?

  3. Dear Trish and Rolf — Just wanted you to know that we get your notes daily and are forwarding them to our various family members so they can pray for you. Rudy is so adorable!! We also pray for Dick and remember your folks’ kindness to a bunch of us Krehbiels several years ago. We couldn’t get tickets (during a blizzard) to see the KU – Indiana basketball game, and when we all descended on your parents, they not only invited us in but provided popcorn and cocoa while we cheered. Hopefully Dick will be in less pain now.
    I know God is so good — He is watching over all of you with love and concern. Our prayers are with you all. Phyllis 🙂

  4. Wow! Definately TOOOO much time stuck in that hospital. Are the flourescent lights getting to you? Let us know if you’d like visitors again? We love you guys!!!! You are a crack up! Go Rudy, Go! (I think he likes the bears)

  5. I’m impressed by both nurse Joyce and Mr. Krowoski, both acting above and beyond the call of duty. Do COO’s normally have that much time to respond to emails? Awesome 🙂

  6. Well, I personally would go for the name, “Baby do we suck.” and maybe the octopus logo looking like multiple vacuuming arms. Generic bears is just not right! Great news about Rudy’s progress and improvement. It will be marvelous to hear him cry and laugh when he can. I love that you can touch his little hands and feet and increasingly more baby Rudy is available to love on contact. Hope your day is going smoothly. Thanks at SBRM are running well. All of us at Bethel House love you all. Patsy, Cambi, Kathleen, Darlene, Micheal, Roxanne, Tanna, and all the Betheleenies.

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