‘Patch’ Adams brings humor to local patients

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams (left) poses for some photographs along with University of Michigan – Dearborn student Ben Martin after meeting with patients of Oakwood Adult Day Care Center, 3601 Pelham Rd. Adams and the students, who were dressed in clown costumes, similar to Williams’ portrayal in the 1998 movie.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – In 1998, the movie “Patch Adams” starring Robin Williams highlighted the career of Dr. Hunter Adams, who brought a different approach to medicine, often using humor to ease patients’ symptoms.

On Jan. 19, the man behind the movie visited the city.

Adams, who visited with patients of the Adult Day Care Center, 3601 Pelham, dressed in a clown nose and shoes, similar to Williams’ portrayal in the movie, also gave a scheduled lecture at the University of Michigan-Dearborn the same day.

Meeting Adams was special for UM-D medical student Lance Slatton, who said the visit began with a letter that turned into a phone call between the two.

The phone call turned into an invitation to speak at the campus. Further conversations turned into a visit at the day care facility, which offers care for those who suffer from various ailments, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The facility also offers day care for children between the ages of six weeks to 10 years.

Slatton said his interest in Adams began with the film, in addition to books Adams wrote between 1993 and 1998.

Slatton, who described meeting Adams as “surreal,” said other hospitals in the area also were contacted about a visit from Adams, including Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, but scheduling conflicts prevented the appearances. Finally, after seven months of logistics-handling beginning in March 2011, UM-D was chosen, which Slatton said was a natural fit because of the large number of students in the college’s pre-med program.

Adult and Child Care Supervisor Dorothy Jaroszewski said excitement from the residents was evident. Anything that brings them joy, especially for the older residents, is important, she said.