Famous medical clown to tour Down Under

September 29, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Israel’s news making medical clown David ‘DuSH’ Barashi will visit Australia next month.

Israel’s most famous medical clown recently took leave from his ‘day job’ at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to accompany an Israeli IDF medical emergency team in Nepal.

'General' Dush in Nepal in IDF uniform

‘General’ Dush in Nepal in IDF uniform

David ‘DuSH’ Barashi is a legend among the children of Israel and now, due to his remarkable work in Nepal, is king of the kids in that impoverished, devastated nation.

‘DuSH’ – arguably the elder statesman of medical clowning in Israel – is coming to Perth, Melbourne and Sydney in October to launch an important fundraising campaign raising money for the medical clown program at Hadassah.

Remarkably, Israel was the only country to send qualified medical clowns to the earthquake-affected community.

It’s a measure of Israel’s commitment to holistic medicine in the very real sense; not only is Israel one of the world’s leading emergency medical specialists whose teams are often dispatched to communities affected by natural disasters, but it recognises that keeping physically and mentally traumatised children preoccupied during critical medical procedures aids significantly in their recovery. And who better to occupy a young mind than a clown?

In 2002, Hadassah became the first hospital in Israel to introduce medical clowns. Today, every major hospital in the country has clowns and the discipline is taught in university.

Hadassah Australia, which is hosting DuSH’s visit, says the research clearly demonstrates the efficacy of the program.

“Keeping children relaxed during difficult or stressful medical procedures is one aim, but a recent study in Israel found direct medical benefits to patients and cost benefits to the hospital,” says Alissa Woolf, Fundraising & Relationship Development Manager with Hadassah Australia.

DuSH-with-kidsShe said the benefits include lower stress levels before and after an operation, quicker discharge after the operation and faster operation time.

“Unfortunately, most hospitals in Israel are cash-strapped and can’t afford to pay for these programs from their operating budgets. If we don’t find the funds, then the worst case scenario is that the program at Hadassah will be at risk of closure. That would be a tragedy for the children, their families, and the medical staff,” Alissa said.

Hadassah Australia is one of the first organisations in the world to mount a campaign to support the medical clown program at Hadassah to ensure that the program continues at the Jerusalem-based hospital, which was the first hospital in the Middle East to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Alissa Woolf says it has been estimated that three hours of clown work saves approximately $700 in medical and support staff work.

“When you tally up the amount saved over a given year, it represents a huge impact on the financial health of the hospital. Quite clearly, this is no laughing matter and it’s the message we want to spread to potential donors.”

NB: David ‘DuSH’ Barashi will be in Perth from October 7 – 9, Melbourne from October 9 – 14, and Sydney from October 14 – 18.

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