Claremore Daily Progress

August 4, 2011

Nurses clown around for National Clown Week

Zack Stoycoff
Staff Writer

CLAREMORE — Laura Neal is a registered nurse making a decent living at the DaVita Claremore Dialysis Clinic — but really, she wants to be a clown.

A big wig, white makeup, red nose, clown school-registered clown.

It’s called an Auguste clown. Those are the happy kind, Neal said.

Celebrating National Clown Week, which President Richard Nixon created in 1971 for the first week of August, Neal and other nurses at the dialysis clinic donned comically large glasses, noses and colorful hair this week as they cheered up patients who spend 12 hours a week connected to kidney dialysis machines.

“People are so sick and it’s just doing something that makes them laugh and enjoy life,” Neal said.

She and nurse Dottie Zornes surrounded patient Charles Morgan in his chair Tuesday, handing him a smile-on-a-stick as they tossed around balloon dogs. They prodded secretary Tina White to put on her red nose.

Nearby patients and staffers laughed.

Neal hopes to attend clown school — there are several around the country — and learn what is actually a millennia-long tradition that could bring her to walk a tightrope, perform acrobatic stunts and even do the cheap tricks she might show off at birthday parties.

Coworkers say it was her idea to have staffers wear clown outfits. They even issued a fake press release to notify patients.

White said she hopes other offices pick up on the idea.

The goal: A town full of clowns every first week in August.