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Healthy Humor Red Nose Docs

Yale New Haven Children's Hospital (YNHCH) knows how hard it is for children and their families to cope with an illness and hospitalization. That's why, in 1997, YNHCH was proud to become the first hospital in Connecticut to start a healthcare clowning program, now known as the Red Nose Docs of Healthy Humor.

Funding for the Red Nose Docs Program at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital is provided through Greenwich-based Garrett B. Smith Foundation. The foundation was established by Scott and Heidi Smith in memory of their son, Garrett, who was treated for cancer at the Children’s Hospital.

Special Kind of Medicine

Three days a week, a team of two professionally trained clowns arrive at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital to offer a special type of medicine to children, their families and staff. They are the "Doctors of Humor, Laughter and Hilarity".

Humor offers a way for children to cope with the environment of a hospital. As one clown said, "What we do comes from inside of us. You see the corner of a child's mouth turn up and that's it. It's magic. That's why we're here"

child life 

Member of a Larger Family

The Red Nose Docs Program at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital is one of 15 Healthy Humor programs in children's hospitals across the country. Close to 70 artists create moments of joy, wonder, laughter and comfort for more than 600,000 children and families every year.

Supervisor of the Year Award

Better known to sick kids and employees around YNHCH as "Dr. Chester Drawers," Leo Desilets was honored this past year as the Supervisor of the Year at Healthy Humor's Professional Development Conference. Desilets was chosen for the award for his deft leadership of the Red Nose Docs during the pandemic, which oversaw a shift to virtual programming for several months. He also shepherded the return to in-person programming in September 2020, the first of Healthy Humor's 15 partner hospitals to do so. The award includes a trip to the next International Healthcare Clowning Meeting, scheduled for October, 2021 at The Hague in The Netherlands.  

Guidelines followed

The clowns only enter a room with permission, and they realize it's important to know when not to be funny. They are trained in and follow all hospital policies and procedures, including HIPAA and safety protocols, and work with staff, parents and procedures.