The dream doctors

Medical clowns and laugh therapy specialists from around the world visit Israel for annual Advanced Medical Clowning International Summer Seminar.

August 9, 2012 16:55
Medical clowns

Medical clowns 521. (photo credit: Courtesy Carmel Medical Center)


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Wearing his distinctive and indispensable red nose, a silly green hat and vest and an oversized pacifier around his neck, Dr. Batata (sweet potato) is lurking in the corridor of Haifa’s Carmel Medical Center’s pediatric wing. As a wheelchair-bound young girl, not more than 10, is helped out of her chair by two nurses to stagger into the laboratory across the hall, Batata pounces, following the group inside without receiving directives from any of the other caregivers. For the next 15 minutes, the nurses draw vial after vial of blood from the patient for necessary tests, but thanks to Batata’s antics, involving blowing up animal balloons, telling jokes and a slew of other tricks, the young girl, with a constant smile on her face, is completely enamored and enthralled by the clown, unaware of what exactly the nurses are doing or how much time has gone by.

While Dr. Batata, whose real name is Itai Nachmias, isn’t a certified physician, he is nevertheless an essential part of the hospital’s medical team, serving as one of the facility’s highly trained and experienced medical clowns, whose goal, in his words, “is to cheer up young patients who are ill.”


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