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Patch Adams / Hunter Adams

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For almost 30 years, Patch has been treating patients free of charge, making house calls, and visiting and cheering up thousands of patients in hospitals. Along with sound medial advise, he offers valuable personal attention. In House Calls, Patch writes, “The greatest shortcoming of modern medicine in this century. Not only have patients lost their doctors’ precious attention, by physicians have not found a replacement for this close relationship in hospital settings.” He believes that “Having a meaningful connection to one’s patients is crucial for the prevention of burnout.”

Fortunately, Patch has a prescription for this modern malaise. He recommends that we all spend more quality time visiting our love ones who are ill or depressed. Spending more time with loved ones – and even visiting people whom we don’t know – does a lot to help them feel better emotionally and physically. In addition to encouraging such visits, Patch offers practical advise for making these visits enjoyable and fulfilling for both the patient and visitor. He provides tips for promoting our own healing and advises that we extend our compassion out to our communities as well.

He was been called a “social revolutionary” by some and a “one man show” by others. Whatever the label attached to Dr “Patch” Adams there is no doubt that as he travels the globe his outlook on healing is causing people to re-think their approach to medicine. Patch’s medical career has been devoted to giving health care away free! He believes in “horse and buggy” medicine and never charges his patients a fee.

With a few colleagues Patch founded the Gesundheit Institute in northern West Virginia in 1971. Over the next twelve years this home-based family medical practice treated more than 15,000 people without bills, formal facilities or the other trappings and necessities of modern medicine. Patch’s dream of transforming the health care system is being realized through the passion, idealism and devotion of the Gesundheit Institute. It is building a free, full-scale hospital and health care community, which will be open to everyone.

As “Patch” brings his vibrant and caring approach to medicine into the world spotlight through international conferences and medical school lectures, it is hard not to be swept along by his energy. Patch believes that healing should not be a business transaction. Rather, that the process should involve a loving, creative, humorous and mutually responsible relationship between doctor and patient. While some may have seen Patch’s vision of “patient centered” health care as an idealistic dream, there is no doubt that his ideas and working model in the Gesundheit Institute are starting to break through some of the barriers.

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