Rick Corrente has a red nose. Actually, he has 560 of them, and next Monday, Labor Day, he hopes the noses will have helped him raise thousands to build a free hospital, the dream of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams.
A mortgage broker and former Democratic candidate for Warwick mayor, Corrente is the driving force behind PatchFest, a day of entertainment, children’s games, vendors and car show at Mulligan’s Island on New London Avenue in Cranston. PatchFest opens at 8 a.m. and runs to 8 p.m.
And what do red noses have to do with it all?
The red nose is all about laughter, an essential ingredient to the medicine practiced by Dr. Adams.
In the movie “Patch Adams,” actor Robin Williams – playing the role of Adams as a medical student – takes a red bulb from a syringe to transform into a clown to the delight of hospitalized children and the anger of the medical school director.
Corrente is hopeful PatchFest will bring a smile to the real Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams.
In a telephone interview, Adams stated his commitment to building the $70 million, 40-room free hospital and expressed his frustration with all the broken promises to help him. The movie epilogue falsely reports the hospital as operating. Further, Adams said that when it came to signing the contracts to produce the movie, he asked the 12 in the room if money raised from the film would go to building the hospital and all of them said it would. Adams said no funds from the film, which he said grossed $700 million, have gone to the hospital.
In addition, Adams said he didn’t receive any funds from the film.
“Not only did they lie but they shot me in the foot,” he said.
He is also discouraged that 90 percent of those saying they will help don’t follow through.
“I’m in the 49th year of a project that I thought would take four,” Adams said. But he’s not defeated.
Corrente was one of those who followed through with a pledge to build the hospital. When Adams called to thank him, the two talked for nearly an hour and Corrente came up with a plan to help raise funds for the cause.
Corrente says he knows how to promote, and that’s the role he’s taken in putting together PatchFest. As of Monday, 50 vendors have committed to the event, three bands are scheduled to play, 10,000 fliers have been distributed and the event has been promoted by numerous media outlets. The event also incorporates a “mega” car show with a DJ.
So far, Corrente estimates he’s raised $2,000 in donations. More funds will come in from ticket sales – $5 for adults, and children under 12 and seniors 65 and older are free – as well as car show registrations and maybe the noses.
Corrente is thinking a dollar donation for a nose.
Adams continues to espouse his belief that medical treatment is too costly and that physicians don’t spend the time listening to their patients. On average, he said, physicians spend 7.8 minutes talking with a first-time patient when they should be spending three to four hours. He said doctors are prepared to staff the hospital for $300 a month.
According to the Patch Adams website, the Gesundheit hospital being built by the Gesundheit Institute in West Virginia “will embody our activist philosophy: a free, communal style hospital, nested in a community ecovillage, with a Teaching Center. The hospital will deliver care in a context that models our ideal design. The Teaching Center will educate visiting practitioners to create their ideal design.”
Adams has a vigorous schedule of speaking engagements and will be in Costa Rica during PatchFest. He said he would plan to attend should a second PatchFest be held.
Dr. Adams summarizes his vision of more than a hospital on his website:
“I envisioned a community where people with poor self-images could go, actively participate in the rebuilding their lives, and reestablish love of self and of others – the most potent therapy of all. I envisioned a farm of about 75 to 100 acres with a primary school, a library, dormitories for as many as 300 patients, and facilities for artists and craftspeople. We would have gardens to make the community self-sufficient and a range of projects to make work a joyous game.”
As for the hospital, he writes, “The community would have a permanent staff of doctors and a temporary staff of teachers. Most people would stay only a few hours or days, but those needing the community for longer periods would stay longer. My idea at that time (and still is, now) is that this model hospital would not necessarily be copied but rather would stimulate other groups to develop their own ideal medical approach for their communities.”
Adams didn’t provide information on the status of funding for the hospital. Construction started on the education center in 2011.
Corrente is optimistic of a huge turnout Monday. He notes the forecast is for perfect weather and he can think of no better cause.