Healing by Working Together
Western or mainstream modern medicine has extraordinary talent and skill in treating trauma. The doctors and nurses in hospitals are miracle workers in repairing the body and returning the function and articulation of movement back to normal after devastating trauma. We honor their treatment of Patients with the highest respect. While this treatment is superior to any known for treating trauma, the same approach to healing (surgery, drugs, radiation) disease and illness is not as successful.
Watch the video below for an introduction to energy medicine and the shift from biological medicine.
Thank you for taking the time to visit this website and for your curiosity concerning my work. You may have heard of me through the film about my life in medical school, Patch Adams, and I can confirm that I am actually a real person. I am a Doctor, but above all else I consider myself an activist for peace, justice and care for all people. Please read my short autobiography below to learn a little more and if it’s interesting, consider purchasing my book, Gesundheit!. Have fun!
I am a Doctor, but above all else I consider myself an activist for
peace, justice and care for all people.
My older brother and I were World War II babies. Dads career was in the army and he fought all of World War II and Korea. We grew up on army bases, outside the US during peacetime and stateside during wartime. Our last seven years with him were in Germany where he died in 1961. He was so damaged by his war experiences that he couldn’t connect with me. I had no father. My mother was remarkable. She loved us. She was a schoolteacher and fed me all of my interests, giving me self-esteem and making me a creative, loving man who cared for people.
After my father´s death we moved back to Virginia and I was placed in an all white school where I immediately was confronted with the ugliness of segregation. I got in trouble with my classmates and was beaten up for standing up to the racism that surrounded me. I was a strange, nerdy kid. In my late teens I was hospitalized three times because I didn’t want to live in a world of so much violence and injustice. Everything changed in the last hospitalization when I decided that instead of taking my life, I would make a (love) revolution. At 18, I found my desire to serve humanity through medicine and made the commitment to myself to never have another bad day. I decided to be happy. I left the hospital on fire and pursued a couple interests while working for my medical degree.
First, I wanted to go out and engage the world as this happy soul. I started clowning in public and have done it daily since. Second, I set out to quench my thirst for knowledge by studying everything I could get my hands on. In order to become an instrument for peace, justice and care I read thousands of books. I needed to understand so I could create solutions. I became interested in whole systems thinking, looking for ways to integrate it with the hospital-community concepts that emerged in medical school. In my imagination I envisioned a communal eco-village hospital that would address every problem of the way healthcare was delivered in one model. I wrote it up in a paper in March, 1971 and this was the basis of what became the Gesundheit Institute.
I met my wife, Linda, in my last year of medical school (Medical College of Virginia, class of 1971). She was instrumental in the early years of the hospital´s functioning and I cannot imagine it without her. Together we had two sons, Atomic and Lars.
With an amazing group of friends we created the Gesundheit Institute, a pilot hospital model, which we operated for twelve years out of our communal home. We were always open for any kind of problem. Our policy was: 1) no charge 2) no health insurance reimbursement 3) no malpractice insurance 4) 3 to 4 hour initial interview with the patient 5) home as hospital 6) integration of all the healing arts 7) integration of medicine with performance arts, arts and crafts, nature, agriculture, education, recreation and social service 8) the health of the staff is as important as the health of the patient.
We did this for 12 years and saw thousands of patients. The experience was enchanting. Unfortunately we were so radical that we couldn’t find funding. The staff itself paid to practice. In 1984, we realized that we couldn’t continue operating this way. We needed a facility. In this context we decided to go public and I quickly became busy as a speaker.
In the last 28 years, I´ve created 50 presentations and performed them in 70 countries. I´ve spoken at 90 medical schools in the US and many more around the world. Over the course of the last two decades I´ve been on the road for 200-300 days of the year.
In 1985, I took a group of people on a clown trip to what was then the Soviet Union. Equipped with colorful clothing and compassion we visited hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly as well as just clowning on the street. Since then, these trips have been an integral part of Gesundheit´s global outreach. Apart from returning to Russia every year there have been clown trips to all corners of the world, including visits to war zones, refugee camps and natural disaster sites. We´ve also built clinics and a school at some of the places we´ve visited. I go on six or seven of these trips yearly. They are the sweetest healing work I get to do while I wait for the hospital.
I go on six or seven of these trips yearly. They are the sweetest healing work I get to do while I wait for the hospital.
After separating from my wife in 1997, I submerged myself in working to get our hospital built. Several years later the movie about my life, “Patch Adams”, was released. I thought it would build our hospital but that hasn´t been the case. It did, however, bring a great deal more visibility to our project and opened many wonderful doors to new directions for Gesundheit to pursue. 20 years ago I became a student of the School for Designing a Society and over time I´ve discovered a passion for teaching.
In the summer of 2011 we started construction of our first big building, a Teaching Center in West Virginia. This will allow us to see patients once again as well as providing a space to teach health care system design. In the excitement for this moment, I chose to move to Urbana, Illinois to live with my beloved Susan, who has been and continues to be a precise mentor to me. In recent years I’ve had the opportunity to work together with my sons and brother, Wildman, and life doesn’t get any better than that. All this in hopeful preparation for the dream of a crazy free hospital.
Local experts will be teaching workshops on Wild Foods, Energy Healing, Fermentation, Yoga, Meditation, Drumming, Healthy Cooking, Herbal Medicine, Environmental & Community Health. Join us in Hillsboro, WV in May!
Clowning with our Russian friends gives us hope for a world revolution of love! We invite you to join on a two-week adventure to Moscow and St. Petersburg to clown in hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes, & more!
Check out some more ways for you to get involved at Gesundheit. Yippee!
Above all, remember what Patch reminds us, that friendship and laughter are truly the best medicine, so get out there and "Spread Joy Indiscriminately"!
Join Patch and Gesundheit doctors in designing the world’s first curriculum for loving kindness and compassion in health care. Click below to Read More!
Patch Adams is best known for his work as a medical doctor and a clown, but he is also a social activist who has devoted over 40 years of his life to changing America’s healthcare system. He believes that laughter, joy and creativity are an integral part of the healing process and, with the help of friends, he founded the Gesundheit Institute in 1971 in order to address all the problems of health care in one model.
The Gesundheit Institute, a non-profit healthcare organization, is a project in holistic medical care based on the belief that one cannot separate the health of the individual from the health of the family, the community, the society, and the world. Our mission is to reframe and reclaim the concept of ‘hospital’.
Formed in 2006, Gesundheit Global Outreach (GGO) encompasses humanitarian clowning missions and aid, educational programs, building projects and community development around the world. The goal of this work is the improvement of the health of individuals and communities in crisis from sickness, war, poverty and injustice.
Gesundheit is a model designed to influence discussions of health care delivery systems around the world. As such, our mission is primarily educational and inspirational. Our hospital project delivers care in a context that models our ideal design, while our Teaching Center educates health care practitioners to create their ideal design. Through a variety of educational programming, our aim is to seed/design a variety of projects that move the healthcare delivery system away from the corporate-business context into models of compassion and service.
Dr. Beni Gesundheit studied for five years at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, Israel. He attended medical school in Switzerland, and did his residency in pediatrics at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Dr. Gesundheit completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. He received his Ph.D. in bioethics from the University of Toronto (2004), with a dissertation on Jewish medical ethics.
Dr. Gesundheit has been employed by Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva, Hadassah Hospital Ein Karem in Jerusalem (Unit of Bone Marrow Transplantation), and a private clinical center in Tel Aviv. He is currently conducting stem cell research.
Dr. Gesundheit teaches Jewish Medical Ethics in the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, as well as in the newly opened medical facility in Tzfat (Bar Ilan).
Dr. Gesundheit has developed two websites, www.jewishmedicalethics.org and www.tefilah.org.
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