Doctor Champions Humor
and Love in New Medical Model
Adams was initially the subject of ridicule and excommunication by the medical
establishment, followed by praise and ultimately a popular movie based on his
life. His affinity for unbridled humor & humanness set him on an early collision
course with the traditionally stuffy medical school curriculum that taught that
you should always maintain a professional distance from patients. Not so, countered
Adams. "The best therapy is being happy. All the other things doctors can
do are at best aids." Health, he held, is not the absence of disease, but
rather living a happy, vibrant, exuberant life every single day. Having come
full circle, Dr. Patch Adams is now a much-in-demand lecturer at medical schools
throughout the USA and a household word within the health care community as a
result of the 1999 release of a very successful movie about his life.
if to play on the former criticism, Dr Adams promotes his philosophy of health
care through a stage show in which he plays a 19th century snake-oil salesman.
His 'products' include nutrition, exercise, wonder, curiosity and love. Joy,
he says, is more important than any other drug. As a part of his "snake-oil"
teachings, he says that "'We will never talk in terms of cure rates. People
are always 'in process' until they die. You don't cure depression. You help a
person find happiness, according to their own definition, and hopefully you help
them to perpetuate that."
your stereotypes of starched white medical interviews, tons of forms to fill out
and the all-important question. "Are you insured?" Unless it is an immediate
emergency such as arterial bleeding, you are more likely to take a walk with the
good doctor or go fishing or jogging while explaining your problems. The first
goal, he says, is to establish trust, and that process should be enjoyable for
both the doctor and the patient.
Adams dream began to take form in 1971 when he founded "the Wellness Institute."
For 12 years he essentially ran a hospital out of his house, providing free care
to an estimated 15,000 people, 24 hours a day, and never charging a cent. By
1983, the need for a real facility became apparent, and his focus shifted to raising
the money necessary to build a new healing center based on the principles he was
nurturing facility combining farm, theatre, craft center, and recreational opportunities.
& patients living together in a warm home-style environment.
healing community teaching the skills of cooperation, compromise and interdependence.
silly, fun and playful place that ignites the innate joy buried beneath the illness
inter-disciplinary hospital that utilizes the services of many kinds of healing
facility whose underlying ethic is that of living healthy lives and not just conquering
was born the Gesundheit Institute, a hospital and health care center on
a 320-acre farm in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. As he explains, the institute
is meant to be both a stimulant and an irritant. As a successful working model
of joy-based health care he hopes to stimulate the medical community into looking
into viable alternatives to the current system. And his humorous approach to
life and work will likely continue to be an irritant to the overly pompous and
serious professionals who fear their own humanness and that of their patients.
Guardian. For more information, contact Patch Adams, MD, The Gesundheit Institute,
6855 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22213, USA (tel. 703/525-8169), or volunteer
coordinator Kathy Blomquist, Gesundheit Institute, HC 64, Box 167, Hillsboro,
WV 24946, USA (tel. 304/653-4338). Note: Patch Adams is not on e-mail. He is trying
to raise up to 20 million dollars for his hospital project. The Gesundheit Institute
puts out an occasional newsletter called 'Achoo Service!' ('Good health is a laughing
matter - and that's nothing to sneeze at!'). Those wishing to make a donation
can send a check made out to the Gesundheit Institute at the above address or
can put their names on a list at www.patchadams.org)
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