Who hasn't seen the uproarious and uplifting "Patch Adams," the movie where Robin Williams, who plays the title character, Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams, uses his medical skills and his sense of humor to valiantly uphold the Hippocratic Oath -- free of charge. Although the movie somewhat touches on the real Patch Adams, it does touch on the important message that has been the life of Patch Adams -- that of providing friendly, free, and compassionate health care to individuals that need it. What it does not touch emphasize, in contrast to the real Patch Adams, is his attempts at directing health care away from the for profit system that places an undue burden -- psychological, physiological, and financial -- on the patient.
According PatchAdams.org, the Gesundheit! Institute began https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gesundheit!/id591696651?mt=8 - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gesundheit!/id591696651?mt=8 - with 3 doctors and 17 of their friends moving into a 6 bedroom house in rural West Virginia, dedicated to doing nothing other than providing free health care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In its first nine years, even after seeing thousands of patients, hundreds in the middle of the night, some having to get jobs for support, not one of the medical staff quit.
The hospital flourished.
Until the 1998 movie, "Patch Adams," was released, the reporter had never heard of the Gesundheit! Institute, this despite growing up two counties over, less than 150 miles away, and visiting cousins constantly in Hillsboro and neighboring Denmar, West Virginia. Even more astounding to the reporter was that it was a totally free hospital (and few places deserved a place like the Gesundheit! Institute more than in rural West Virginia during the 1970s) and that it had completed its new, totally free facility on its 321 acres of land in Pocahontas County (where Hillsboro is located).
The problem with the last claim, stated as it was before the ending credits of the "Patch Adams" movie, is that it was not true. Dependant upon donations for construction funds, the real Patch Adams and his fellow doctors and fundraisers found it difficult for some time to get adequate funding to complete the newer facility. According to PatchAdams.org: "While this false claim hindered Gesundheit's ability to fundraise for the free hospital, the movie itself raised visibility http://www.yourdictionary.com/gesundheit - http://www.yourdictionary.com/gesundheit - and helped launch a decade of teaching and Global Outreach."
Patch Adams, a professional clown in addition to being a doctor, has traveled the world with groups he has organized to visit, entertain, and teach in other nations his particular style and method of administering health care. Adams and his groups have taught and lectured in 65 countries.
The Gesundheit! Institute expanded in 2007 to include a Teaching Center and Clinic, which was designed to "teach health care design and provide a positive global model of health care delivery."
It is still a hospital dedicated to providing free health care.
Proceeds from the sales of Dr. Patch Adams' book, Gesundheit!, go to funding the Gesundheit Institute and its projects.
For more information on the Gesundheit! Institute, go to PatchAdams.org.
"Patch Adams," IMDb.com