Laughter is often the best medicine, so Baystate Children's Hospital supplements its crack medical and nursing staff with a team of volunteer clowns. Their visits to the bedside of our young patients are sometimes just what the doctor ordered.
The clown program was inspired by a visit to BCH from "Patch" Adams, the bedside clown made famous by the Robin Williams movie that told his story. Linda Kelly, a staff chaplain at Baystate Medical Center, thought a little clowning around was just what BCH patients needed. Following a volunteer clown recruitment and pilot training in spring of 2008, the Happy Hearts Hospital Clown Troupe was born.
Members of the Happy Hearts Hospital Clown Troupe, who are both volunteers from the community and from the Baystate workforce, pair up in teams oftwo and visit inpatients at Baystate Children’s Hospital about six times a month. Their goal is to use laughter to lift the spirits of BCH kids and their families.
LEFT: Purple Pennie the clown, also known as Anne Kluchnick, a BCH case manager, amuses a patient.
RIGHT: Volunteer clowns, Pepe, Sunny (aka Linda Kelly), Alley Cat and Purple Pennie in the Happy Hearts Hospital Clown Troupe prepare for some bedside visits.
The reactions to the clown visitors have been enthusiastic. "We've had families come up to us and thank us for brightening their day or making them laugh during otherwise tough times. That’s what it's about", said Purple Pennie, one of the visiting clowns.