Medical clowns deliver smiles to patients at CHOC Children’s Hospital

Southern California philanthropists Ralph and Sue Stern want patients at CHOC Children’s Hospital (CHOC) to continue to benefit from moments of joy, wonder and comfort from Red Nose Docs. The couple, who established medical clowning at CHOC in 2015 after witnessing clowns add fun and laughter to hospitalized children in Israel, has agreed to continue their funding.

The flagship program of Healthy Humor, Red Nose Docs use juggling, comedy, magic and music to inject laughter and fun into the hospital environment. These professional artists receive additional training to work in the sensitive clinical setting and partner with staff to aid in patients’ healing.

“We are grateful for generous donors like Ralph and Sue who value the incredible power of play and want to partner with us to keep the magic of childhood alive and well for our patients and their siblings,” says Brianne Ortiz, child life manager, CHOC.

Red Nose Docs visit CHOC twice a week. They round on patients in the emergency department and clinics, as well as in the hematology/oncology and neurology floors. They have become unforgettable members of the care team.

“When I look back at my journey with cancer, my memories with the Red Nose Docs were a bright spot. I’m very happy they were part of my CHOC experience,” says Sydney Sigafus, 17-year-old cancer survivor. “Although they created a light-hearted environment, their work is not a joke. They were respectful of my harder days during treatment as well.”

The Sterns, in collaboration with the CHOC Children’s Foundation, are committed to securing funding to sustain the Red Nose Docs program. In addition to their founding gift, Ralph and Sue Stern have offered to match donations of any amount up to $300,000.

Sue Stern explains, “This unique program truly supports CHOC’s tireless efforts to ensure a child’s medical condition doesn’t interfere with the joys of being a kid. It’s incredibly heartwarming to see a patient light up and laugh when one of the clowns enters a room. Laughter is a natural medicine and we want to make sure the Red Nose Docs continue to deliver weekly doses of it!”

For information about supporting Red Nose Docs at CHOC, please contact Kara Kipp at (714) 509-8690.