Patch Adams mends the system, one person at a time

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Patch Adams mends the system, one person at a time

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Patch Adams spends too much time with patients, and he does not charge for care. He has no medical malpractice insurance. He promises to care, not to cure. And most disturbing of all, he embraces the ridiculous notion that health care can and should be fun—an enterprise better practiced wearing a clown nose than in a white lab coat.
by Terri Holland
Patch-Adoms_b_0508.jpgPatch Adams spends too much time with patients, and he does not charge for care. He has no medical malpractice insurance. He promises to care, not to cure. And most disturbing of all, he embraces the ridiculous notion that health care can and should be fun—an enterprise better practiced wearing a clown nose than in a white lab coat.

Adams clowns in Africa and Kabul, bringing smiles and relief to poor people and refugees. For 12 years, he ran a free hospital and clinic—where he dispensed as much common sense as medical advice, a place where it was easier to get a glass of lemonade than a prescription for an antidepressant.

As an owner of Home Caregivers Home Health, I am confronted daily by the incessant demands and requirements of providing direct care services to patients in their homes. I frequently lament the lack of a reality-based television programming on home health. It would crack you up and curdle your blood. It would make you mad and break your heart. Creativity, collaboration, and passion often get lost in the serious business of providing health care.

The Arts in Caring Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the value and importance of incorporating art into health care intends to enhance the relationship between patients, their families and their care providers. We address the social, mental, spiritual and emotional needs of our patients through a health care delivery system that combines the conventional modalities of skilled nursing services, physical and occupational therapies, assistance with daily living activities and appropriate medication monitoring. The Art in Caring Council’s health care philosophy, closely aligned with that of Adams, embodies the notion that there is more to good health and well-being than access to direct care providers and conventional modalities of intervention and cure, though this access is also crucial to good care. Adams wrote:

The loudest cry of patients was for compassion and attention, which was a call for time. So initial interviews with patients were three to four hours long, so that we could fall in love with each other. Intimacy was the greatest gift we could give them….In spending this amount of time with patients, we found that the vast majority did not have a day-to-day vitality for life (which we would define as good health)….We needed an engagement with life. …We knew that the best medical thing we could do for the patients was to help them have grand friendship skills and find meaning in their lives.

People like Adams and those working with the Arts in Caring Council acknowledge that comprehensive care means more than the application of many different interventions. It means comprehensively falling in love with the people we aim to serve and heal.

Terri Holland is co-owner of Home Caregivers Home Health, and executive director and chair of the board, Arts in Caring Council.

Friday, May 16, 7 p.m. Patch Adams at Kingsbury Hall—“Living a Life of Joy”; $25

Resources: www.patchadams.org  Home Caregivers Home Health, the Arts in Caring Council: 485-6166

 
 
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