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The Real Patch Adams

Meet Patch Adams, the real person behind the hit movie 'Patch Adams,' starring Robin Williams. Patch is both a medical doctor and a clown...but he is also a social activist who has devoted 30 years to changing America's healthcare system, a system which he describes as expensive and elitist.

American filmmaker Judith Bourque, longterm resident of Sweden, traveled to West Virginia to Gesundheit Institute, the non-profit foundation that Patch created to make real the building of a dream. There, amongst beautiful mountains, hardwood forests and waterfalls, Gesundheit advocates are constructing a holistic rural hospital and healthcare community based on the vision of what healthcare should be like. That means patient care where laughter, joy and creativity will be an integral part of the healing process. Healthcare will be provided without cost and doctors will carry no malpractice insurance. Doctors and patients will relate to each other on the basis of mutual trust, and patients will receive plenty of time from their doctors. Allopathic doctors and practitioners of alternative medicine will work side by side.

If you think that all sounds like a utopian impossibility, it isn't. Patch and his colleagues practiced medicine together that way for 12 years in what he calls their 'pilot project.' They saw 15,000 patients.

Through an in-depth interview with Patch you will hear his story...about the journey from suicidal despair in his youth to making the decision to devote his life to the study of what makes people happy. The viewer will also get to follow Patch on his travels to other countries as he clowns for sick children or teaches courses in 'The Joy of Living.'

This film provides the opportunity to think about some very important subjects in a light hearted and thoroughly entertaining manner. It is of interest to anyone who works in healthcare, as well as anyone who is or will ever be a other words, everyone.

'Behind his clownlike persona lies a great deal of wisdom, and it often falls to the court jester to speak the truth that those in power need to hear.' Bernie Siegel, M.D.

'This program intricately details medical doctor Patch Adams' life and unconventional medical philosophy...Commentary by Adams' supporters, social activists, and others who talk about their experiences and philosophy is equally telling. An excellent program to circulate with the popular movie, this might also find a spot in medical and nursing schools.' Booklist

'Anyone who enjoyed the Hollywood version of this story...should check this documentary out...A welcome change from HMOs and managed care!' Fellowship Magazine

''The fool performs a sacred role in the community...a teller of truth standing naked in the marketplace...confronting the powerful with playful disorder.' This commentary, from Ken Feit, aptly describes the enigma that is Patch Adams...Perfect for college effective documentary of the power of the human spirit, and one man's quest to address the problems in the American health care system.' Jennifer Harrison, North Carolina Wesleyan College

'For high school and up; useful to stimulate discussion of humor, healing, and values. Recommended.' Melinda Davis, Univ. of Tennessee Law Library, MC Journal

'Whether you hail 'Patch' as an example of what doctors should be like, or dislike him because of his constant in-your-face clowning, this program allows you to base your opinion on fact, not movie fiction. Recommended.' *** Video Librarian

'Finally a physician who understands that wholeness means incorporating every aspect of the human experience. Don't miss this rare opportunity to see the work of a true healer.' Leo G. Frangipane, M.D.


Main credits

Bourque, Judith (filmmaker)
Adams, Patch (interviewee)

Other credits

Photography, Judith Bourque.


Patch Adams, health care, public health, humor, medicine, society, activism, Gesundheit Institute; "The Real Patch Adams"; Bullfrog Films

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