An Interview with Doctor Hunter “Patch” Adams, founder of the Gesundheit Institute

“The Gesundheit Institute is a pie in the face of greed – by taking the most expensive thing in America, health care, and giving it away for free.”


We [Gesundheit Institute] represent possibly the only model in this country really addressing the problems of care delivery in an active model. We are now culminating 22 years of experience in a 40-bed hospital in West Virginia that won’t charge money, won’t carry malpractice insurance, and won’t accept third party reimbursement.

It also won’t separate the healing arts. All of them work together – traditional medicine and surgery with acupuncture, homeopathy, etc. We want to make the hospital a place a person can’t wait to come to, whether they are working there or being there as a patient. Because we are interested in promoting wellness, we will integrate medicine with performing arts, arts and crafts, agriculture, recreation, nature, and social service. Those are some skeletal parts.

I would like to see that Gesundheit is both a stimulant and an irritant – that those are its two real functions, not so much that it’s doing free medicine and that sort of thing, but that our example either stimulates you to follow your dreams or irritates you where you are with your life.


“At Gesundheit, we see deep intimate friendship between patient and doctor as having great medicinal power.” Whatever ideals you bring to medicine, you have to lie to yourself every day with all the forms, the malpractice, the costs, the limits on time, and your training that says don’t touch the patient, but you see the patient reaching out to you. So everything that is your humanity that screams out to help people is squished in some way or another. It’s very hard being in health care delivery now. That is why several thousand doctors and nurses last year said, “I’ll work with you. I’ll give up my private life and work for free, just to be out of this garbage.”

Basically, medicine as a business is ethically wrong. We can never get a re-creation of community and heal our society without giving our citizens a sense of belonging. Without knowing that your tribe will care for you if you need their help, you are never going to get a sense of belonging.

Read all of Interview with Patch Adams Interview by ‘Caring People’ Magazine, Spring 1993

Read Doctor Hunter “Patch” Adams ~ a short bio. from ‘Caring People’ Magazine.

Also read Patch Adams in Wikipedia.

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