Humorous Healing | The Annex Gleaner

When you’re 29 years old, newly married, and suddenly diagnosed with an incurable disease, it’s hard to find things to laugh about.

That’s what happened to Zal Press more than 30 years ago. After he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, friends and family started treating him differently. When they were around him, they were around him, they were all deeply concerned and they could never act casually. He was no longer a ‘person’; he became a ‘patient,’

Like most patients, he just did whatever the doctor told him, hoping the problem would be solved. “Just give me a pill so I can get on with my life,” said Press, reflecting on how he felt back then.

But after obeying doctors’ orders and being compliant for so long, Press stopped being passive. He began asking questions, he started looking Crohn’s Disease critically. In short, he took his healthcare into his own hands.

Today, Press is trying to encourage other patients to do the same with Patient Commando, the entertainment company he founded.

Located in the Bloor and Bathurst area, Patient Commando’s mission is “getting patients engaged with their own healthcare,” according to Press.

The company does this through live theatre, public speaking, and humour therapy workshops, giving [...] continue the story

Hypertension success stories boost BP control | TheHeart.org

The first randomized controlled trial to examine the effect of a culturally appropriate storytelling intervention on control of blood pressure has shown some success, with those who were uncontrolled at baseline improving systolic BP by 11 mm Hg over the course of the study, published in the January 18, 2011 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine [1].

Dr Thomas K Houston (University of Massachusetts, Worcester) and colleagues created DVDs of real African American patients from a low-income, inner-city setting telling their own stories of how they battled hypertension [2]. They showed these to half of the people in their study, while the remainder saw a “control” DVD that covered health topics not related to hypertension. The BP reductions seen, particularly in those with uncontrolled hypertension at baseline, are “similar” to those achieved with pharmaceutical interventions and dietary approaches, say Houston et al.

“I do think that storytelling is innately human. It’s a way we make meaning out of the world and understand our lives,” Houston told heartwire. “So it does apply across the board, it has value for everyone, although there is evidence that the benefit is greater for those of lower literacy.” I do think that storytelling is innately human. It’s a [...] continue the story

The Best Medicine? | Metro News

Patient Commando gets the blood pumping with a big dose of its laughter therapy program. The non-profit group helps support those with chronic disease, in severe pain.

They’re not sick jokes, but rather jokes for the sick.

A new, non-profit company called Patient Commando is making sure that stories about health struggles — both sad and funny — get told and listened to. Laughter therapy has long been known as a powerful tool to release tension and get the blood pumping more efficiently.

In Patient Commando’s promotional video, a comedic actor spoofs everyone’s worst hospital nightmare.

Donning his hat, socks and shoes, he tries to make a dignified exit, but his hospital gown isn’t done up and his bare bum jiggles hilariously for all to see.

Comic relief — through laugh therapy and live theatre shows — is one of the ways that Patient Commando helps support people who have chronic disease, terminal disease or are suffering from bereavement.

The company also encourages people to tell their stories. “I’m interested in the expression of the story,” says Toronto founder of Patient Commando Zal Press.

“Listen to the patient voice.”

Press himself has struggled with the painful symptoms of Crohn’s disease, an inflammation of the intestines, for 30 years. “It feels [...] continue the story

Partnering with patients to improve care | HIROC News

Several recent news items point to an interest in Canadian healthcare providers partnering with patients to heighten patient safety and healthcare.

Rather than providers positioning as the experts dictating interventions, some are looking to patients for their perspective on their own care and the larger system.

At the Saskatoon Health Region, senior managers are conducting weekly walkarounds where they engage front-line staff, patients and their families in dialogue about patient-safety issues.

The goal is to heighten the culture of safety through a conversation identifying issues and solutions, and it’s working, says vice-president of clinical and operation support services Sandra Blevins.

“We have quite lively discussions around care aspects, and educate patients about their role in patient safety.

“The culture shift is starting to happen,” she adds.

On June 20, Barbara Balik, a senior faculty member at the Institute for Health Information and CEO of Common Fire Healthcare Consulting, delivers a keynote in Toronto on the importance of partnering with patients and families.

In an earlier interview with Axiom News, Balik highlighted the value of those partnerships in light of the Excellent Care for All Act, noting they can contribute to a better designed system for effective cross-continuum care.

“If we partner with patients and families on very (aspect of [...] continue the story

Production Company Blends Live Theatre With Patient Experience | HIROC News

A new Canadian entertainment production company is blending live theatre with the patient experience, in hopes of highlighting the importance of engaging patients in their healthcare.

Patient Commando’s debut production, Cancer Can’t Dance Like This, is May 12 in Toronto at the Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Broadcast Centre, 250 Front St. W.

Zal Press, Patient Commando founder, has had Crohn’s disease for 30 years and recently sold his business to start the company. Press plans to take the productions across the country to give patients, families and health providers the opportunity to look at illness and the patient experience from a fresh perspective.

“It’s not just a story for patients,” Press tells Axiom News.

“It is about experiencing and understanding (the patient perspective) through new eyes.”

Patient Commando uses public speaking, humour therapy workshops and live theatre to present compelling stories from the patient perspective. Cancer Can’t Dance Like This is a one-man show and comedic dramatization of Daniel Stolfi’s two-year battle with cancer.

Press hopes healthcare providers attend and learn more about the patient narrative.

“By making them open to the patient experience would be a voice to guide practice change. It’s instructive. It helps create a culture of safety.”

Proceeds from Patient Commando’s feature stage events [...] continue the story