What’s so funny? 15 years of uplifting visits by Dr. Clown
Red-nosed merry-makers promote healing through laughter
There were lots of red noses at the JGH on September 25—and not because of colds or the flu. Four of Dr. Clown’s zaniest merry-makers roamed the main lobby and corridor for a couple of hours at mid-day to celebrate 15 years of the Montreal organization’s emotionally uplifting visits to patients.
Passers-by were momentarily startled, but then delighted, as Frankie strummed his ukelele and sang along with Jeanette, while Dr. Pédalo and Dr. Louloushka danced to “Let’s Twist Again”, “Crocodile Rock” and “What A Wonderful World”.
At one point, a boy about 3 years old watched wide-eyed as Dr. Pédalo blew soap bubbles in his direction. Meanwhile, in the corridor, Frankie and Jeanette walked casually up to random visitors and boldly serenaded them, earning warm hugs along with the occasional look of bewilderment.
Although this was a special occasion for the therapeutic entertainers (complete with cupcakes and balloons), members of Dr. Clown normally spend a full day each week at the JGH, thanks to funding from the JGH Auxiliary.
In the morning, they visit patients in areas such as Oncology, Palliative Care, Cardiology and Intensive Care, while afternoons are reserved for Geriatrics and La Belle visite, a special type of clowning geared to the elderly. Along the way, they also keep hospital staff laughing.
The JGH is the only adult general hospital to welcome these clowns on a regular basis. The red-nosed jokesters are a familiar sight at about 70 other institutions in Quebec, including children’s hospitals.
Trained in psychosocial skills as well as clowning, the artists promote healing through laughter that reduces stress and promotes emotional well-being.
“It’s wonderful to realize that we’ve been coming here for so long,” says Melissa Holland who, in addition to being co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of Dr. Clown, was among the first clowns to begin visiting the JGH in 2004.
“The Jewish deserves a great deal of credit for encouraging a culture of supporting the mind and the spirit, as well as the body,” Ms. Holland notes. “The people at this hospital understand that what we do isn’t frivolous. It’s a way of building resilience among patients who may be at a weak point in their lives.”
Nancy Rubin, Director of the JGH Auxiliary, says the clowns “bring a sense of joy to many patients who are experiencing different degrees of illness. It’s a pleasure to have them here.”
Linny Blauer, Co-President of the Auxiliary, agrees, adding that support for Dr. Clown is well deserved “and the feedback has consistently been great. The clowns brighten every room they’re in, and it’s worth it to make patients forget, even for a few seconds, how sick they are.”