A Little Laughter a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

New Form of Healing Therapy Introduced for Staff and Patients of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children

Laugh all you want, it’s good for you.!!

Patients and staff of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children are trying a new remedy that is sure to help them feel better, and put a smile on their faces.

Staff members from St. Mary’s, one of the region’s largest providers of intensive rehabilitation, education, and specialized care for children with special needs, are spreading a little laughter around the Bayside hospital as part of a new healing therapy program called the “Laughter Club.”

Developed by St. Mary’s Palliative Care team, (a program created for children near end of life) The Laughter Club was created to stimulate laughter and amusement through exercises and activities that promote physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing.

The new form of therapy, available for both patients and staff, will provide the entire healthcare system with a little humor to get through the day, an opportunity for staff to bond with St. Mary’s kids, and most of all, a few added benefits for the body.

“15 minutes a day of therapeutic laughter can boost the immune system, improve circulation, balance blood sugar, relax muscles, aid digestion, ease stress, and even help burn calories,” said Holly Potoeski, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist at St. Mary’s.

Holly received training in the laughing cart therapy and conducts the classes. During her first kick-off session, she had St. Mary’s staff members rolling with laughter by practicing a variety of exercises while chanting unique phrases.

As an addition to the new and exciting therapeutic program, Holly and the therapeutic recreation team have also introduced the “Laughter Cart,” specifically designed for St. Mary’s kids.

Filled with joke books, hilarious movies, chattering teeth, snakes in the can, tattoos, grouch glasses, and laughing animal critters, the laughter cart is designed to put a smile on any child’s face, no matter how difficult the obstacles they are facing may be. Staff members plan to use the laughing cart in an effort to help lift children’s spirits who are feeling down, having a bad day, or just need a little excitement to boost their encouragement. More importantly, the cart includes several special toys that have been uniquely adapted for children with special needs.

The innovative program also aims to encourage St. Mary’s kids to unite and laugh together, promoting a family-centered environment in which patients heal together.