Me: A Short Autobiography
Hi! Patch here. 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! -
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. Read More ⇓
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. Read More ⇓
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. Read More ⇓
In the summer of 2011 we started construction of our first big building, a Teaching Center & Clinic 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. My life has been a dance with humanity. Friends are my passion.