During our shifts at my former children’s hospital, there were rooms with contact, droplet or airborne precautions on any given unit and we were not able to enter those rooms for a clown visit. When I was still new, I thought this meant that we would pass them by and move on to the next room. I was wrong. The more experienced clown doctors I worked with showed me that this situation simply called for creativity and teamwork.
As I stated in my ER Windows post:
In many emergency departments you may have rooms with large windows; they may or may not have curtains or blinds that you may or may not be able to play with. (This is always tricky with regard to privacy, so it’s best to play at windows with rooms that are already open or have open curtains.)
The rooms had windows looking into the hallway as well as out to the world, so we made good use of them (the ones in the hallway; hanging from the outside of hospital buildings was frowned upon). This was an opportunity to sharpen our silent clowning skills.
Following are some examples of we did during our “window clowning”:
*We would simply juggle or perform other skills than can be seen from a distance.
*We would peek from the bottom or the sides of the window; pretend to be in an elevator going down; pretend to be walking down some stairs.
*We would chase each other past the window, pretend to swim or we would dance by the window.
One of my favorite examples of silent window fun happened in the emergency department one night:
- One of my partners who wore two large pony tails brought a large rubber chicken to the ER. - If we played at a window, she would stand there alone and wave.
- I would be unseen, but I’d hold up the chicken as if it is having a discussion with her.
- She and the chicken would slowly get into a heated argument.
- The chicken would attack her with her ponytails flapping about.
- I would then close the blinds, pause, then open them.
-The next thing the people in the room would see was my partner sticking to the window in horror and defeat, and then sliding down as I closed the blinds again.
- We’d then move on to another room.
Window clowning doesn’t have to be limited to the rooms we cannot enter for whatever reason. It can be an introduction to a reluctant or disinterested patient, helping the clowns make a judgement as to whether to enter the room and continue the performance or to move on. It can also entertain the nurses and other personnel sitting nearby, which is a nice by-product! As always, empower your patients, trust your clown partner and have fun!
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in 2014. She was a resident clown there and at Baptist Children's Hospital. For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds