W3 Reflection: Clown Doctors in NYC

In Clown Doctors in NYC it introduces a specialized division, the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in the New York City hospitals network of clowns who visit patients that are admitted and their attempt to relieve some of the stress of being sick. New York started this program in 1986 and was created by Michael Christensen who saw the usefulness and the need for such services for the children,  their parents and the staff.

As I quote the equipment used by one of the staff  “Dr. Winona Do-More checks her hospital badge, white coat (with red heart on the sleeve), glasses, makeup (including red nose), oxygen tubing (worn twisted around her head), and bag of medical instruments (kazoo, bells, whistles, and other noisemakers).” They  usually tem up with two or three and visit ER’s , waiting rooms and many other parts of the hospital where people are looking sad and gloomy and could use a little smile and happiness from the sadness that brought them to the hospital in the first place. Using magic, sleight of hand and just tom foolery they help take the edge off the pain of small children, adults and the staff at these locations.

Although they are not medical doctors the services they provide are just as useful. They don’t heal the physical ailments of the patients, but they do take their mind off of them, making the mental strain a little less than it was before the clowns got there. No they are not actually doctors of anything except laughter and relaxation. The results of the clown doctors has been outstanding so much that the program went from two clowns serving seven hospitals to thirty five serving the seven medical locations throughout the city. The model has been so popular that many others have tried to duplicate it for their needs as well.

2 thoughts on “W3 Reflection: Clown Doctors in NYC

  1. Hi Paul! I loved the Clown Doctors of New York as they play such a vital role in alleviating so much of the hidden stresses that can actually impact the patients’ overall health. They may not have prescriptions pads and the authority to distribute medication but their humor and happy aura are the medication needed to increase the morale in the hospital during difficult times for patients and their loved ones. They are very effective and improve the atmosphere of the hospitals they work by adding laughter and opportunities of optimism.

    Although they do not have Board Certification exams and they do not operate on their patients, the Clown Doctors have the access and certain privileges around the hospitals and there is greater credibility for them especially since this program has been running since 1986. They will not be put on the same level of respect as orthodox biomedical physicians but their work must still respected and appreciated as they address a part of health that is very easily overlooked. It is always best for a patient to have all parts of their health be attended in order to make a full recovery, not just the physical and as they say, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

  2. Hi Paul,

    The Clown Service that New York City provides for the ill seems like a great idea first of all! Similarly to the article I read about Shamans who were allowed permission to perform rituals on their Hmong patients, it seems as though the U.S. hospitals are pushing for ways that can keep morale up for the ill to help in the healing process. In no way are these clowns considered health professionals and I don’t believe that is the point of their services. Doctors in this healthcare system work with the diseases and illnesses that occur within people and the clowns are meant to cheer the patients up. In regards to specific healing of disease, the clowns can’t be considered credible, legitimate, or effective healers of disease because that’s out of their control. What they can do, especially if they are working with someone mentally ill, is they can complement the work doctors do and that can make them effective in some cases of healing. Some may or may not feel that this the practices of these clowns are credible and legitimate depending on how close to traditional westernized medicine people may believe in. I personally think that approaching healing through different means can help alleviate the limitations each single discipline of healing that exists.

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