Laughter is the Best Medicine: The Real Patch Adams

ImageOne of the biggest highlights of my life was “clowning” with the real Patch Adams.  I had the opportunity to coordinate the event “Living a Life of Joy” at Kingsbury Hall in May 2008.  It was fun to go around the University Hospital dressed up as clowns and see the smiles on the faces of the patients there.  (I removed my red nose as it got too itchy). I recollect the moment in this picture quite well as he was a bit sweaty from going all over the hospital and he thought it would be funny to squeeze a bit tighter for the photo!

You may remember Patch Adams from the movie starring Robin Williams. What you may not know is that, over the course of the last two decades, Patch has been on the road for 200-300 days of the year.  In 1985, he took a group of people on a clown trip to what was then the Soviet Union. Equipped with colorful clothing and compassion they visited hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly as well as just clowning on the street. Since then, these trips have been an integral part of Gesundheit´s global outreach.   Patch started the The Gesundheit! Institute, 40 years ago. 

Patch Adams in Sri Lanka

The Institute has offered care to tens of thousands, given workshops and lectures in over 65 countries, built and supported clinics, schools, and orphanages from El Salvador to Cambodia, and brought the joy of clowning to parts of the world damaged by violence and injustice.

Patch’s mission with the Gesundheit! Institute is to create a health care model based on the following principals:

  • Care is free.
  • Patients are treated as friends.
  • Ample time is given to the care interaction (e.g. initial interviews with patients are 3 hours long).
  • All complementary medicine is welcomed.
  • The health of the staff is as important as the health of the patients.
  • Care is infused with fun and play.

Sounds great doesn’t it?  With all the talk you hear these days about healthcare it seems we have a long way to go.  Patch is leading the way with building the Model Hospital set to be completed in 2014.

Physical and mental health problems are very serious for those who are suffering, and yet we are still human and need to have fun and laugh.  It can be hard to do when you’re not feeling well.  Those who know me understand my humor and I’ve certainly enjoyed the humor of those I’ve been privileged to work with over the years.  Whether appropriate or not, sometimes you just have to laugh or you’ll cry….or even both (which is often the best)!

We don’t need science to prove that laughter is good for your health, although there is plenty of research in this area. When we laugh, our bodies feel the release and our minds are distracted from the pain, even for a moment…and this is how the healing happens.  One moment at a time, one day at a time.

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One thought on “Laughter is the Best Medicine: The Real Patch Adams

  1. Pingback: Hunter “Patch” Adams~Gesundheit Institute – A NEW Kind of Medicine « An Alchemist's Journey….

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