You will see plenty of red noses making patients smile at Largo Medical Center TODAY! It's National Red Nose Day. In addition, the hospital's top medical staff down to our volunteers may be seen donning humorous alter egos, making appearances to help brighten patients' spirits. Those with these silly alter egos are known at the hospital as "Caring Clowns."
"Humor helps with the coping process, " said David Weiland, MD, Largo Medical Center, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of the hospital's Caring Clowns Humor2You program. "Leslie Weiland, RN, my wife, spearheaded our comprehensive research study which shows clowning and humor has positive impacts on abilities to fight infection and reduce blood pressure. We see tangible results in both the patient and the performer. For depressed patients, the caring clowns are immediate mood lifters, and they see a difference in their pain perception."
Other research also suggests laughter combats stress, reduces pain by releasing endorphins (the body's natural painkiller), and boosts the immune system.
Dr. Weiland, whose clown name is "Flip Flop," began his fascination with clowning when he treated patients in that profession from the Ringling Brothers Circus. In 2008, when he met his wife Leslie, a Hospice nurse, co-founder of Largo's Humor2You program and experienced professor at Clown College, she convinced him to go to clown class and pursue his new calling. Over the years, Leslie, a.k.a. "Happe" the clown, has travelled the world and made numerous media appearances promoting her agenda to put humor into hospitals.
With today being National Red Nose Day, a day devoted to being funny and raising money to help youth live healthy and happy lives, the Weilands believe their message of humor is stronger and more important than ever. They both out point clowning not only helps patients, but also has therapeutic benefits to family members and for the clown performers. "We're all human, we trust laughter, and with clown humor we love that we are creating a better model of healthcare than ever." Dr. Weiland goes on to say. "With all of the negativity around us, humor creates just the reverse!"