Manda­tory fun: Ar­gen­tine province re­quires clowns in public hos­pi­tals

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Amer­ica has the in­di­vid­ual man­date for health in­sur­ance and re­quires hos­pi­tals to of­fer emer­gency treat­ment. But Ar­gentina’s largest province, Buenos Aires, has the clown man­date: Public hos­pi­tals are now re­quired to hire spe­cially trained clowns to help treat child pa­tients.

Dr. An­dres Ko­gan, a pe­di­a­tri­cian who over­sees a hos­pi­tal pro­gram with clowns, said the law passed in May would be im­ple­mented over the next few months. The province, which borders the sep­a­rate city of Buenos Aires, has about 15 mil­lion res­i­dents and more than 70 public hos­pi­tals.

Ko­gan told the As­so­ci­ated Press that clowns don’t just make chil­dren and their fam­i­lies feel bet­ter about be­ing in a hos­pi­tal, they also help doc­tors get in­for­ma­tion from chil­dren who are shy, have been abused or are not able to com­mu­ni­cate.

Alejo La­cone, 9, left par­a­lyzed af­ter be­ing hit by a car in March, is a good ex­am­ple of how that works. Be­cause of a tra­cheotomy, he can’t speak.

How­ever, three clowns at the Cen­tral Hos­pi­tal of Pe­di­atrics Dr. Clau­dio Zin, on the out­skirts of Buenos Aires, are able to get him to smile by act­ing in front of him. The clowns do rounds ev­ery Thurs­day in rooms with chil­dren.

“The clowns put on their noses and in­vite you to play with them,” said hos­pi­tal di­rec­tor Car­los Kam­bourian.

Lud­mila Arre­des, Alejo La­cone’s 19year-old cousin, said the clowns give the child some­thing to look for­ward to.

“Since the clowns be­gan com­ing, the nurses have no­ticed a dif­fer­ence, and so they have asked that they come more fre­quently,” she said.

Un­der the law, hos­pi­tals will have wide lee­way to de­cide how many clowns come and how fre­quently.

Clowns Rom­ina Amato, left, and Erika Veliz, per­form for pa­tient Dy­lan Robledo at a

pe­di­atric hos­pi­tal in Buenos Aires.

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