Monday, May 16, 2011

Patch Adams Clowns For Compassion

Dr. Patch AdamsWhen most people hear the name Patch Adams, the first image that comes to mind is the movie starring Robin Williams. Not me. Not anymore.

The real Patch Adams, born Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams, is an American physician and social activist who founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1971. For twelve years, he ran the institute as a free community hospital.

And after it closed, Adams began organizing trips to various countries to spread his gift of humor and medicine all over the world.

Today, Adams is hoping to re-realize his dream. The new Gesundheit! Institute is envisioned as a free, full-scale hospital and health care eco-community that will be built on 316 acres in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. His goal remains much the same as it was when he first graduated from medical school in the 1970s.

He believes free health care is obtainable, without interference by insurance companies. And at the heart of it all is compassion.

An International Day Of Compassion In Honor Of Dr. Patch Adams.

Earlier this year, Antony Berkman, president of and founder of, happened to catch Adams's speech at the Mayo Clinic on YouTube and was moved by what he saw and heard. When he connected with Adams afterward and developed a relationship — built on the foundation that friendship is the best medicine — Berkman offered to help build awareness.

The result of this friendship was the International Day Of Compassion, an event that asked everyone online (bloggers and social networkers) to participate in one of three ways.

First, to observe May 15 as an International Day Of Compassion by committing to one act of compassion. Second, to call on the United Nations and countries to proclaim May 15 an International Day Of Compassion. And third, to raise awareness for the Gesundheit! Institute, which recently broke ground but is still in need of additional funding.

"We didn't ask for much," says Berkman. "We asked that everyone make a commitment to be more compassionate, whether that meant something as simple as keeping a journal about the compassion they share with others or demonstrating a tender moment with another human being.”

The initial request attracted about 65,000 participants, and was mentioned at least once every minute across social networks. Given the short window of the campaign, about two weeks, it was better than Berkman hoped. The success is a foundation from which people can bring more attention to the Gesundheit! Institute.

Any proclamation that makes May 15 the International Day Of Compassion seems to be timed right. International Nurses Day is recognized on May 12. It is celebrated to coincide with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, widely considered the founder of modern nursing.

"You treat a disease, you win, you lose," says Adams. "You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome."

Patch AdamsThe hospital isn't the only building project at the Gesundheit! Institute. Other projects include The Patch Adams Teaching Center, which will be focused on education care, justice care, and environmental care as well as health care. It will also provide a 24-hour free clinic that is designed specifically as a model for students and medical professionals to practice medicine with care and compassion amidst a playful, professional team.

Along with the physical presence in West Virginia, Adams frequently organizes volunteers to assist with Clowning & Caring, an educational clown tour that is currently touring Costa Rica. Adams holds up Costa Rica as an example of a country that supports projects of peace, justice, and ecological restoration.

The International Day Of Compassion In Honor Of Patch Adams Is A Good Will Pick.

At least once a month, Liquid [Hip] highlights good will efforts undertaken by courageous people with big hearts. We don’t score them. That belongs to you.

We picked the International Day Of Compassion by because it represents the intersection of imagination and actuality, awareness and action. There are many ways to get involved as an individual or as an ambassador of good will through the Gesundheit! Institute. One of the most interesting includes the Humanitarian Clown trips.

Visit the website if you would like to make a direct donation. Although critics were unkind to the movie Patch Adams, you can find it on iTunes. The Patch Adams - Collector's Edition is available at Amazon. The movie is also at Barnes & Noble. You can hear an exclusive unedited interview by Cher Duncombe, editor of Broowaha, with Dr. Patch Adams here.
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