He can't imagine himself skipping through the hallways at Brainerd Medical Clinic wearing a clown costume.
But Dr. Paul Milloy did learn a thing or two about unconventional medical care after spending 10 days in Cuba with Dr. Patch Adams, a pop icon made famous by the Robin Williams movie based on his life.
He also discovered he and Adams were classmates during their undergraduate years at George Washington University, though neither of the men remember each other. They also both volunteered at the same time in Bosnia a few years ago.
Milloy and his wife, Marianne, returned from Cuba two weeks ago after spending 10 days on a Global Exchange trip, which sent Adams and about 100 medical professionals to the country to meet with their Cuban peers to discuss a wide range of medical and social topics.
Dr. Paul Milloy learned a few clown tricks from Dr. Patch Adams on his recent trip to Cuba, but he suspects his Brainerd patients would probably be taken back if he joked around while working as much as Adams does. (Dispatch Photo by Jodie Tweed)
Adams was an interesting doctor for Milloy to observe. He never wears a white lab coat, only clown costumes with zany designs. It was a bedside manner that Milloy was unaccustomed to.
"He's very dedicated to kids. Kids love him," he explained. "He's certainly unconventional. To a conventional-thinking doctor like myself, it catches you off guard. Since I've been back I haven't had one question about Fidel Castro. Everyone wants to know what Patch Adams was like."
The Milloys and the entire group also traveled to the elementary school of Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old boy who was found Thanksgiving Day clinging to an innertube at sea after his mother, stepfather and eight other people drowned while trying to reach Florida by boat.
Posters of Elian could be found everywhere, with statements demanding he be returned to his father in Cuba. His school desk remained untouched, just as the little boy had left it.
Marianne Milloy actually spoke to Elian's father through a translator at the boy's school and asked him about his son, who will likely be returned to Cuba this week.
His father told her that he talks to his son every day, and Elian asks about his friends. He was worried about whether his schoolbooks and supplies were still in his desk.
"He told his dad on the phone to take care of his books and things," said Milloy, of Elian. "It keeps it all in perspective. Heads of state are quarreling but he's worried about the things in his desk. He's going to be returned. That's the natural common sense thing to do. He shouldn't be a part of that political tug of war."
"It was a fascinating trip," said Marianne, who has traveled with her husband to Peru, Mexico and Guatemala on several similar trips. "I asked everybody about Fidel Castro. One woman got tears in her eyes when she talked about him. They think he's incredible. If anything, the embargo has strengthened him. People were so friendly. They would say, 'We share so much with Americans.' They even get American TV and radio stations from Florida."
Milloy said he and Adams have been keeping in touch through e-mail. Adams, a social activist who believes in putting humanity back into the medical profession, is attempting to raise funds to build his Gesundheit Hospital in West Virginia. He runs a clinic there.
Adams is also planning to buy an airplane named "Clown One" for his traveling clown medical group to entertain and treat sick children around the world.
The Milloys, along with others from the Brainerd medical community, will leave in three weeks for a medical trip to a remote area in Guatemala. Ironically, they will be joined by a group of Cuban doctors.
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