Dr. Hunter Adams, also know as ‘Patch’, is both a medical doctor and a clown…but he is also a social activist who has devoted 30 years to changing America’s healthcare system, a system which he describes as expensive and elitist.
Patch Adams believes that laughter, joy and creativity are an integral part of the healing process and therefore true health care must incorporate such life. Doctors and patients in his model relate to each other on the basis of mutual trust, and patients receive plenty of time from their doctors.
Allopathic doctors and practitioners of alternative medicine will work side by side. If you think that all sounds like a utopian impossibility, it isn’t. Patch Adams and his colleagues practiced medicine at the Gesundheit Institute together in West Virgina that way for 12 years in what he calls their “pilot project.” They saw 15,000 patients. Patch Adams has devoted his life to the study of what makes people happy.
Through the success of this program at the Arlington, Virginia location, a model health care facility is being planned on 310 acres purchased in Pocahontas County, WV. The Institute will include a 40-bed hospital, a theater, arts and crafts shops, horticulture and vocational therapy. Over five years ago, Dr. Patch Adams and staff temporarily stopped seeing patients so that they could coordinate plans for raising $5 million needed for the Institute’s permanent and expanded home, a “model health care community.” Currently planned is an immediate phase of this dream, a $400,000 WV facility so that their medical service to patients can resume within the next two years.
The Institute addresses, by action, four major issues in health care delivery: the rising cost of care, dehumanization of medicine, malpractice suits, and abuses of third-party insurance system.
Dr. Patch Adams adds to his training as a physician, his experience as a street clown. In working with health and mental health professionals, he explores the relationship between humor and therapy using his unique blend of knowledge, showmanship and “hands on” teaching techniques. Says Dr. Adams, “I interpret my experience in life as being happy. I want, as a doctor, to say it does matter to your health to be happy. It may be the most important health factor in your life.”
Patch Adams, M.D., is a nationally known speaker on wellness, laughter, and humor as well as on health care and health care systems. He approaches the issues of personal, community, and global health with “zestful exuberance,” according to Time Magazine. Dr. Patch Adams believes that “the most revolutionary act one can commit in our world is to be happy.”