Monday, October 3, 2011

Patch Adams Isn't Just a Movie

When we attended the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore, the first event I wanted to see was a speaker named, Patch Adams. I knew he would be inspiring and amazing, besides terrifically funny!

Patch Adams
You probably remember the name Patch Adams from the movie with Robin Williams, but this was the real Patch Adams, the doctor who uses humor and any modality other than drugs that he can to make people well. He created a free hospital over 41 years ago and it's still operating.

He had quite a story to tell. He doesn't own a computer but does reply to EVERY U.S. postal letter he receives. That means he writes 200-600 letters a month by hand. He averages 300 speaking engagements a year. That's astounding enough, but the volume of books he reads in a month's time was also amazing. He's never needed more than 2-5 hours sleep a night since he loves waking up to a wonderful life every day.

His current project is in West Virginia where the Gesundheit Institute (his free hospital) owns 310 acres of land and is building another free clinic open 24/7, and will have a staff of 10 serving the people of West Virginia, in one of the poorest counties in the U.S. The Clinic will provide a model for students and medical professionals to practice medicine with care and compassion amidst a playful, professional team.

A special emphasis will be on prevention, both individual (health behaviors) and institutional (public health). In addition to examination rooms and physician offices, the clinic will have a greenhouse, group kitchen, radiology suite, and arboretum. Read Patch's introduction to the project.

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 that he describes as expensive and elitist. He believes that laughter, joy and creativity are an integral part of the healing process and therefore, true health care must incorporate those aspects of 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 in Patch's model.

If you think that all sounds like a utopian impossibility, it isn't. Patch and his colleagues practiced medicine at the Gesundheit Institute together in West Virginia that way for 12 years in what Patch refers to as their "pilot project." In that time they saw 15,000 patients without any fees. From that experience onward Patch Adams has devoted his life to the study of what makes people happy. Get more information on Patch Adams and his many humanitarian endeavors, at PatchAdams.org.

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