Dr. Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams clowned around Columbus Wednesday and made a stop at the Ohio Union.
Adams is a physician that dresses as a clown and visits hospitals in hopes of bringing joy to patients.
About 350 people attended Adams’ lecture, “Humor and Health.” He is an activist on changing today’s health care system on a global scale with the Gesundheit Global Outreach, a movement to relieve individuals and communities of sickness, war, poverty and injustice with clowning trips overseas.
During his speech, Adams showed off his “toys” used to make patients laugh, including fake “dog doo,” a Whoopee Cushion, cheek spreaders, rotten dentures, fake snot and what he calls “the world’s largest pair of underpants.”
Six OSU medical students and four pharmacy students visited Nationwide Children’s Hospital with Adams from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Adams said in an interview with The Lantern that the visit was full of “hundreds of little enchanting moments.”
Jason Reid, a second-year in medicine, said Adams gave attention to everyone at the hospital during his visit.
“He would hug the nurse or play a joke with the parents, would give the cleaning men a big hug,” Reid said. “It was about improving the whole hospital experience for patients and staff.”
Keith Rosenberg, a second-year in medicine, traveled to Nationwide Children’s with the group. Rosenberg is a founder of “Clowning in Columbus,” a group of OSU medical students that visits hospitals and senior centers dressed as clowns.
Funding from BuckeyeThon, a student organization that hosts an annual 14-hour dance marathon in collaboration with Nationwide Children’s, enabled OUAB to schedule the visit to Nationwide Children’s, said Katie Krajny, OUAB staff advisor.
Adams was hospitalized three times at the age of 18 after attempted suicides. During the third hospitalization, he realized he needed to make a “revolution for love,” and made two decisions: to serve humanity through medicine and to be happy all the time.
“I decided to be a radiantly, disgustingly happy person,” Adams said.
Patch attended medical school without an undergraduate degree at the Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon graduating in 1971, he and 20 friends, plus their children, opened up a free health care facility in Richmond, Va. It operated 24 hours a day and seven days a week with five to 50 guests each night.
The idea was to have a free hospital that had nothing to do with health insurance, Adams said. He also said it was important to spend time with the patients.
The hospital, Gesundheit! Institute, was the first non-profit hospital to provide free health care in the United States, Patch said.
“He has a remarkable capacity to spend time with people,” said Sarah Bradford, second-year medical student.