Clown doctors of NYC cannot be considered medical doctors but clearly are making a positive impact since Michael Christensen founded the Clown Care Unit (CCU) in 1986. Since then the CCU has grown from two to thirty five clowns. Their mission is to relieve and enlighten or spread joy to New York City hospital patients (mostly children) from their disease or illness, as well as entertaining children in waiting rooms, mothers in outpatient waiting rooms, and comforting parents of children that are in intensive care units.
As previously stated, the healers are clowns dressed in white coat, hospital badge, glasses, and makeup (with red nose). The clowns carry equipment for balloon animal, bells, whistles, and other noise making tools. The clown doctors may use stereotypical clown entertainment like swallowing swords, magic tricks, or juggling to entertain a more broad audience such as those in waiting rooms. Once leaving the makeup room around 10a.m. each morning, clowns exchange laughs with anyone passing by on their way to the pediatric outpatient clinic. So long as the room contains waiting patients the clown will enter as what the doctor refers to as a “specialist for the child” blowing bubbles, playing music, and pulling clown noses out. Puppets seem to be popular entertainment and they even have technique to relieve a child which is originally terrified of clowns but showing reverse psychology, acting just as scared of the child. Even children in isolation get greeting from the clowns in the form of window gestures. After lunch clowns make stops at each pediatric room sometimes singing to long-term patients or distracting short-term patients from burns and other painful stimulants to their bodies. It seems that long-term patients sometimes seek the clowns and look forward to their presence as a way to get through the days and put a smile on their faces.
The systems these clowns operate in seem very broad. I think it would be difficult to change your mood and delivery based on whether it is an appropriate time or not. It seems that clowns are trained to be goofier in situations where the patient may be in for something more short-term or less serious, and more cautious if the patient is unstable, dealing with something potentially fatal, or possibly just heard negative news. I believe that patients are given the space needed to themselves or with family to come to terms and take any negative information in before a clown would be given the chance to “brighten their day”. Given the many pre-cautions the clowns must abide be, I find this way to provide relief and a positive attitude to younger children to be something special for the city of New York.