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JOHN CARDINAL O'CONNOR
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For the past few years, a clown has been part of the regular staff in the Pediatric Ward of Assaf Medical Center to entertain the children. This idea came from Dr. Shay Pintov, a physician in the department and Director of Integrated Medicine at Assaf.
The man chosen is Shlomi Elgusi, a professional clown, who studied in a course for medical clowns in the U.S. Professor Mordechai Aladjem, Head of the Department says, “the attitude of the whole department has improved unbelievably”.
Elgusi tells us: “my objective is to make them forget their pain.
One of the children afraid to move his arms, moved them while blowing bubbles.
On one occasion I allowed the doctor to give me an injection in order to
convince the little girl to allow them to do the same to her. I am
funny and I try to calm them”.
A convention was recently held at Assaf on the subject of integrating humor as one of the treatments for patients hospitalized and treated at the hospital. The participants at the convention, including a clown, claimed that studies have proved that a good mood contributes to recovery.
The staff confirms that not only does humor contribute to recovery; it also streamlines the work of the medical staff since the patients cooperate willingly and with a smile.
Dvir (Dvir Nissan ben Esther) Kinarti, the 8-year-old boy who was shot in the back by Palestinian terrorists while driving home two weeks ago, is no longer suffering from depression - thanks to Hadassah Hospital's "clown doctor." Dvir today entered Alyn Children's Hospital, billed as "Israel's Only Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center," where he will be undergoing physical therapy. He is able to use one leg, but the other is, for unknown reasons, not yet functional, and he is wheelchair-bound. Dvir was in a car with his mother on his way to Ofrah when terrorists sprayed the vehicle with automatic weapons fire.
Though he was originally suffering from a form of depression, Dvir's spirits are now vastly improved following "clown-doctor treatment" in the children's department in Hadassah Ein Karem. Two such doctors visit the ward regularly on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, the first medical center in Israel to employ a "medical clown", initiated a course for such clowns for the benefit of all the hospitals and young patients in Israel.
Dr. Patch Adams, the American doctor who originated "clown doctor" therapy and who was the subject of a popular movie on the topic, visited Israel two months ago. He participated in a seminar at the Assaf HaRofeh Hospital in Tel Aviv on "Humor and Laughter in the Service of Medicine," and paid visits to hospitalized children in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Dr. Adams said at the time that the most important aspects of a patient's treatment are "empathy and support." Prof. Mordechai Aljam, director of the Assaf Harofeh Children's Ward, said that after the clown doctor meets with the children, "most of the work is already done."
Some 40 people are currently nearing the end of a six-month "clown medicine" course - the first of its kind in Israel - at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center.
ASSAF HAROFEH MEDICAL CENTER ISRAEL
Located in Central Israel halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. (15 minutes from Ben Gurion Airport)
The New Maternity and Pediatrics Wing is represented
by the lavendar semi circle - center - above.
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