ADAMS: Replacing greed with generosity

April 22, 2013

I'm thrilled to be a part of the new Green Shadow Cabinet. The Green Shadow Cabinet will demonstrate that there are solutions to the crises we face and that we can create a better world together.

I know how care delivery can be a beautiful, inexpensive, burn-out free, community-building journey and can help create a nation where all are cared for equally. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with members of the Green Shadow Cabinet and communities across the country.

I started the Gesundheit Institute in 1971 and ran a 12 year pilot hospital to test our ideas. We are now building our fantasy hospital that will operate at 10% of the cost of traditional healthcare delivery models. At Gesundheit (Gensundheit means “To your health”) we are dedicated to revolutionizing health care delivery by replacing greed and competition with generosity, compassion and interdependence. These values should be central to the mission of healthcare all over the world.

The Gesundheit Institute is a hospital project to show that all of the problems of healthcare delivery[1] can have solutions, not to be the answer, rather to show answers are possible. Gesundheit recognizes that this includes the health and diseases of individuals, families, communities, countries and the world. Gesundheit seeks ways to help all levels of care.[2]

For example, the hospital:

  1. Will be free for all people to eliminate debt in the medical interaction. People should not feel they owe someone for care, but rather that they belong to community.

  2. Will never accept third-party insurance because it adds greatly to the cost of care and insurance companies dictate the care received.[3]

  3. Will never carry malpractice insurance. We need the right to make a mistake in an extremely imperfect system. It is expensive, prevents teamwork and makes a suspicious, fearful healing space.

  4. Will encourage health providers to take all the time they need with patients and their families. This is the loudest outcry from around the world.

  5. Will integrate all healing arts as teammates, looking for least invasive, least expensive and least damaging treatments. Each patient will have a devoted team.

  6. Will show that the health of the staff is as important as the health of the patient.

  7. Will have all the permanent staff living together as a communal eco-village, eliminating 85% of their environmental footprint. To eliminate the destructive forces of hierarchy that plague healthcare delivery, every staff person will make the same salary. It is the hospital's wish to show the health value of another economic system where richness is measured in care, relationship, right livelihood and a creative environment.

  8. Will strive to be a culture that is happy, funny, loving, cooperative, creative and thoughtful – for the health of the staff to prevent burnout and as an ideal environment for healing to take place. This will be especially important in our work with mental illness.

  9. Will be fully engaged in community outreach, connecting all services with the hopes of finding ways to implement wellness programs and needs fulfillment. We seek a dramatic impact on eliminating: obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and drug use. The hospital will have an ongoing number of health promotion activities, educational programs and artistic programs on site.[4]

  10. Will be a teaching institution that will have classes in medicine, the arts, education, peace and justice.

We will demonstrate that communities can break out of the chains of corporate for-profit medicine and build their own nurturing community hospital. To build and endow your community’s hospital costs $140 million. If you find 10,000 families in your geographic area who will pay $14,000 toward the hospital project, instead of what they pay per year to an insurance company that does not care about them, in the first year you have $140 million. You can do it.


Patch Adams M.D. is a family doctor, activist who has stuck to the stream every day for 42 years, knowing he must change and can. Hollywood hinted at his Genesis. Visit and




[1] For more information on the problem of modern health care delivery, see the documentary film, Escape Fire

[2] Please read Susan Parenti’s position papers on care delivery:

[3] For more information, see Michael Moore’s document Sicko

[4] See Vygotsky’s Zones of Proximal Development