WMU News

Real Dr. Patch Adams comes to Miller Auditorium

Oct. 20, 2004

KALAMAZOO--The real-life doctor and healthcare activist made famous in the hit movie "Patch Adams" is coming to Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium.

Dr. Patch Adams will speak at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25, and will be available for a book signing after the show. General admission tickets are $10 and can be purchased through the Miller Auditorium Ticket office at (269) 387-2300 or (800) 228-9858, in person at the Miller Auditorium Ticket Office or at the Epic Center Box Office in downtown Kalamazoo.

Adams is a medical doctor and clown, but he is also a prolific social activist who has devoted 30 years to revolutionizing America's healthcare system, a system that he describes as expensive and elitist. Twelve years before the hit movie "Patch Adams" starring Robin Williams melted the hearts of millions of moviegoers, the real Patch Adams opened a home-based family medical practice in West Virginia. Since then, he has treated more than 15,000 people without payment, malpractice insurance or formal treatment facilities.

Adams has purchased 105 acres in West Virginia, and construction of the Gesundheit Hospital is currently underway. To date, more than 1,000 physicians have offered to leave their current practice and join Adams' cause.

The coordination of the community-wide event has been an ongoing effort of a small, but very dedicated group of undergraduate students at WMU belonging to the Health Professionals Society. In particular, the group's president, Joshua Pohlmann, has been instrumental in bringing Adams to Kalamazoo.

Pohlmann, who has always wanted to be a doctor, saw the film and fell in love with it. He then heard of another university that had invited Adams to speak and decided he wanted to bring Adams to WMU.

"When we launched the Health Professionals Society last year, we wanted to do something bigger than anything the pre-med students have done in the past," Pohlmann says. "Our student organization is made up of tomorrow's doctors and practitioners, and we wanted to enrich our preparation with the best speaker available. Nobody is more inspiring and dear to our hearts than Dr. Patch."

Pohlmann contacted an agency that handles Adams' speaking engagements and found that Adams was appearing on a worldwide speaking tour to raise money for his hospital. Though the price to book Adams would have discouraged most students, Pohlmann set out to raise the money. A key turning point came when Bronson Methodist Hospital agreed to sponsor Adams' trip to Kalamazoo when Adams offered to give a private presentation at the local hospital to secure its support. The event also is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, the Western Student Association and the Campus Activities Board

Pohlmann says Adams was very excited by the student group's effort, so much so that he knocked $5,000 off his speaking fee.

"This is the first time a student or group of students has been able to pull this off," Pohlmann says. "Other student groups have called the agency and asked about booking Patch [Adams], but they couldn't put it together. He was very happy we were able to raise the money and find an auditorium for the event."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
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