Emergency Department Blues

Learning from an International experience

Needing to be taken to the Emergency Department is never a good time. Not as a patient and not as a family member. Recently, I had my own experience in an Emergency Department in a foreign country to treat a wound. Without knowing the language, I felt very excluded in the doctor’s discussions with the staff about how they will treat me.

Not establishing a connection with the staff made me feel very uncomfortable. I didn’t quite know what was going on and I was in another country. Luckily, everything turned out fine. However, I did learn a lot from this vantage point for my return back to the hospitals we serve.

Bringing knowledge home

During the very next shift at the Emergency Department, I was able to take this new found perspective and help improve the experience of the patients and families going through the very same thing.

Upon arriving, my clown partner and I noticed an older couple sitting in the waiting room with a distraught look on their faces. They were possibly the worried grandparents of a patient in one of the patient rooms.

After greeting this waiting family, we walked into the Emergency Department and were given a low-down on a sad patient they had just admitted. They requested that we cheer him up.

The Patient Visit

We entered the room and found a patient with a couple of family members with him. His face appeared to have the remnants of tears. So, we began exploring the room all while gauging the patient’s interest.

Suddenly, after performing silly magic tricks of producing paper towels from the automatic paper towel machine and performing controlled clumsiness,  smiles and laughter appeared on the patient’s face.

We continued and maintained the child’s state of joy, which spread to the concerned parents, who now became relieved parents.

The Therapeutic Medical Clowning Ripple Effect

This connection transformed into a stronger bond of play between the parents and the patient during this not so pleasant time. Lasting levity allowed this family to get through this experience together.

And the best part was when we walked out of the Emergency Department to see the grandparents smiling and thanking us after hearing their grandchild laughing inside.