Comments from Medical Professionals
From: Randal Unsell, M.D.
I was very excited to hear of the new project. This letter may be used in any manner you deem appropriate, for the purpose of showing my strong support of the project.
I am a physician, board certified in two specialties, anesthesiology and psychiatry. I have worked in health care since 1976, when I began working as a respiratory therapist.
The actual experience of being treated in a hospital, clinic, or other location, is not natural and is commonly anxiety-provoking, unpleasant, and disruptive to patients and their families. This is especially true in the treatment of children.
The work that talented professionals, such as Carl Jones who has spent the better part of his life helping others, especially if it were developed on a larger scale, will infuse laughter, happiness, hope, and healing to these vulnerable children.
A Therapeutic Clown Troupe is a very good idea, and there is clinical evidence that this type interaction with children in a treatment setting promotes healing.
Modern physicians clearly understand the science part very well, with all the advanced treatments available. However, the art of medicine, the doctor-patient interaction, the careful listening to the patient, and the healing that occurs outside of traditional therapy, has unfortunately taken a back seat in many environments. A Therapeutic Troupe of professional clowns, or other personnel, will help fill that gap between the science and art of medicine.
I can tell you that a relaxed, laughing child, poses less risk to anesthetize. When I anesthetized children, I often used my own amateur brand of magic and entertainment, just to engage the child, who was about to have surgery. It made the process better for all involved.
Play therapy is a common form of treatment for this population. While this is not the same as the play therapy between a professional clown and a child, one can see the parallel benefits. I whole-heartedly endorse this project, and eagerly await the positive results that will surely follow.
Finally, I refer the reader to a medical article entitled, "The Life Threatened Child and the Life Enhancing Clown: Towards a Medical Model of Therapeutic Clowning." The book, "Patch Adams, M.D., which preceded the movie, is a wonderful account of this wonderful doctor's journeys in helping others.
If I can be of any assistance at any time, Carl, contact me. I love the concept of this project, and believe that young patients will certainly benefit by your efforts.
Randal Unsell, M.D.
Anita Fields-Gold, Ph.D., RN
Past Grand Matron, LA
Lake Charles, LA 70601
I am excited about your newest project. As a licensed Registered Nurse for 50 years and a student nurse for 3 years, I have seen the resilience and adaptive nature of children. Even though I have not spent my professional career in pediatrics, I have taught nursing for 33 years. I have taught pain management and know that the patient perceives greater pain when their minds are not occupied with other things. Just think how your own pain seems worse at night when you are trying to empty it for sleep!
Science has demonstrated that humor and laughter cause the brain to release endorphins, the body's own "morphine." Those who exercise heavily experience this same euphoric high and lose awareness of fatigue and muscle problems. Endorphins will also benefit healing, as it appears to reduce the inflammatory process.
Remember Robin Williams in the film, PATCH ADAMS? In my imagination I see Topper and his troop of Clowns making the same impression on any sick or disabled group of children. For that period of time and for several hours after as the endorphins slowly reabsorb, pain is less and grins and smiles are present. I think humor with the natural resilience and adaptability of children is an unbeatable combination.
Good luck on this project. I shall be watching it.
Dr. Anita Fields-Gold, RN
June 30, 2013
Since 1970, I have worked as an RN with a specialty in pediatrics at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas; Jane Phillips Episcopal Hospital in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital in Houston, Texas; Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital in Houston, and currently am employed at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas.
I have witnessed the joys now for decades when therapeutic clowning was brought into these hospitals. To see the face of a sick child light up with anticipation, excitement, wonderment, and then to hear the giggles of pure joy is awesome!
Families, visitors, and of course the staff, benefit from the temporary break in their busy days to smile. For some, it was much needed relief from the stress of caring for gravely ill children. It is my belief that therapeutic clowning could shorten the length of stay in the hospital for some children by more rapid healing. After all... LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE!
Susan K. Boehning, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Dr. Patch Adams said, "Laughter releases endorphins and other pain-killing chemicals and boosts the immune system and helps the body fight off disease, cancer cells as well as viral, bacterial and other infections. Being happy is the best cure for all diseases!"