SPREADING SOME CHEER: Lucca Santos, four, of Goonellabah, has some fun with Dr Sniggles and Dr Colourfool during his stay at the Lismore Base Hospital.
SPREADING SOME CHEER: Lucca Santos, four, of Goonellabah, has some fun with Dr Sniggles and Dr Colourfool during his stay at the Lismore Base Hospital. Cathy Adams

US grant sends clown doctors back to Lismore Base Hospital

SNAPPING back the balloon on Dr Colourfool, Lucca Santos, four, burst into a fit of laughter.

It's the four-year-old Goonellabah boy's fifth day at the Lismore Base Hospital after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Thursday.

Although a little shy, when asked what he thought of the two visiting clown doctors, Lucca smiled, nodded his head, and put a clown doctor sticker on his nose to show his approval.

Luckily for Lucca, the Clown Doctors will be continuing their visits to the hospital, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the US-based Newman's Own Foundation, which was establish by the late actor Paul Newman.

Yesterday was the Clown Doctors first visit to the hospital for 2014.

The program is designed to bring humour therapy, emotional healing and empowerment to seriously ill children and their families while undergoing treatment in hospital.

Joe Ebetshuber, aka Dr Colourfool, said having Clown Doctors before and after procedures helped to reduce the fear, anxiety and phobia many children face.

"Quite often we start before they have the procedure," he said. "We go in and prepare the child in terms of just having good fun and trust.

"The whole thing about the fear, the phobia, the pain, they may think they've experienced through a procedure is basically evaporated because we're still there and we leave the child on a high note."

Fellow Clown Doctor, Helen Quinlan, aka Dr Sniggles, said one of their main aims was to distract the children from the pain of their procedures.

"Everyone else is here to focus on their illness and we're here to focus on the spirit and the soul," she said.

Altogether, Newman's Own Foundation has donated almost two million dollars to Australian charities in 2013.


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