Red Nose Day: Clowning Around at Largo Medical Center

Four female hospital caregivers wearing red clown noses

We saw plenty of red noses making patients smile at Largo Medical Center yesterday – celebrating National Red Nose Day! In addition, the hospital’s top medical staff down to volunteers were seen donning humorous alter egos to help brighten patients’ spirits. They are known to many as our “Caring Clowns.”

“Humor helps with the coping process, “ said Dr. David Weiland, Largo Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of the hospital’s Caring Clowns Humor2You program. “Leslie Weiland, my wife and a registered nurse, spearheaded our comprehensive research study which shows clowning and humor has positive impacts on abilities to fight infection and reduce blood pressure. We see tangible results in both the patient and the performer. For depressed patients, the caring clowns are immediate mood lifters, and they see a difference in their pain perception.”

Other research also suggests laughter combats stress, reduces pain by releasing endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller), and boosts the immune system.

Dr. Weiland, whose clown name is “Flip Flop,” began his fascination with clowning when he treated patients in that profession from the Ringling Brothers Circus. In 2008, when he met his wife Leslie, a Hospice nurse, co-founder of Largo’s Humor2You program and experienced professor at Clown College, she convinced him to go to clown class and pursue his new calling.  Over the years, Leslie, a.k.a. “Happe” the clown, has travelled the world and made numerous media appearances promoting her agenda to put humor into hospitals.

As we celebrated National Red Nose Day, a day devoted to being funny and raising money to help youth live healthy and happy lives, the Weilands believe their message of humor is stronger and more important than ever. They both out point that clowning not only helps patients, but also has therapeutic benefits to family members and for the clown performers.

“We’re all human, we trust laughter, and with clown humor we love that we are creating a better model of healthcare than ever.” Dr. Weiland goes on to say. “With all of the negativity around us, humor creates just the reverse!”

Three people dressed up for Red Nose Day

Largo Medical Volunteer Bananas Foster, Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Weiland and Registered Nurse Leslie Weiland

Man wearing red clown nose

Chief Executive Officer Anthony Degina

More photos of Largo Medical Center staff and volunteers:

Two hospital caregivers (one is wearing red clown noses on his ears)

Five hospital caregivers dressed up in costumes

Largo Medical Center, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, is a teaching hospital located in Largo, Florida.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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