The Gesundheit Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit healthcare organization whose mission is to reframe and reclaim the concept of ‘hospital’. We are a model of holistic medical care based on the belief that the health of the individual cannot be separated from the health of the family, the community, the society and the world.

From 1971 through 1983 we used our communal home as a hospital to test our ideas. From 1984 through now we have stopped seeing patients to devote our time to raising funds to build our fantasy hospital. We CANNOT see patients until a proper facility is built. We are a very radical project and most of our funding has been from friends like you.

Our organization is founded on six principles that are at the heart of everything we do:

  • Care is free; no third party reimbursement (private or public insurance) is accepted.  There is no charge for care. As a way to recreate community, we want to eliminate the idea of debt in the medical interaction. We cannot conceive of a community which does not care for its people. We don’t want people to think they owe something, rather, we want them to think they belong to something.  We do not accept third-party reimbursement, both in order to refute the notion that people owe something, and also to sever the stranglehold that insurance companies now have on the way medicine is practiced.
  • No malpractice insurance is carried. Trust is central to the care interaction. Our maxim is to treat others as we would be treated ourselves, and we believe that trust grows as health care becomes increasingly collaborative.
  • Initial interviews with patients are 3-4 hours long.  Ample time is given to the care interaction. The seven minute office visit, in which only one “problem” is addressed, is a staple of the modern health care delivery system. As a result, patients, nurses and physicians feel increasingly de-humanized. At Gesundheit, a typical intake interaction lasts 3 hours.
  • The health of the care-giver is as important as the health of the care-receiver. The misery index among physicians and health care providers is at an all time high. The healthcare delivery system is making its frontline workers sick. Bi-directional care arises in a true caring relationship, where all become givers and receivers of care.
  • Patients are treated as friends. We are social beings and we need each other to survive and thrive. For this reason, we place a great emphasis on the therapeutic value of friendship and of a vibrant and cohesive community.
  • All complementary medicines are accepted. To more fully address the physical, emotional, spiritual and social dimensions of health and illness, our model integrates up-to-date bio-scientific medical care with a variety of therapeutic systems and modalities.

Patch explains it better in the following talk at the Mayo Clinic Ted Talk

What We Do

The Gesundheit Hospital Project is an experiment in holism with a medical focus, a sociopolitical act that grows out of our deep concern for the quality of people’s lives and health in a society dominated by the values inherent in greed and power. It consists of three distinct initiatives which address the yearning for a world that meets human needs unconditionally. There are countless opportunities to volunteer and support at least one of these initiatives.


Hospital Project


Gesundheit Institute is a project to re-invent the hospital.  Our project addresses all problems in the current health care delivery system and offers solutions to those problems in one model, a free clinic and hospital based on fun and friendship in rural West Virginia.

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Educational Programs


The aim of our educational outreach is to seed/design a variety of local projects that move the healthcare delivery system away from the corporate-business context into models of compassion and service.

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Global Outreach


Global Outreach gives an innovative face to care, transforming care into play, and benefitting both care giver and receiver. Clowning is the vehicle connecting us to others. We inspire people and communities to become principal agents in their own healing.

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Our History


What started as a free hospital run out of a shared home has transformed into a global organization that is building a better future for humankind through healthcare. Come learn about how medical students, doctors, patients, filmmakers, and world leaders have all embraced our vision.

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On the Land


Gesundheit! resides on a 300-acre pristine tract of farm and mountain land in rural West Virginia, with gardens, meadows, creeks, waterfalls, a lake, and clean air and water. Our buildings are stimulating, yet the surrounding natural environment is even more inspiring.

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Patch Adams MD & Gesundheit Institute, P.O. Box 307, Urbana, IL 61803

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