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Dacha/Staff Building, Gesundheit! Institute, Hillsboro, West Virginia, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"

A work made of chromogenic print.

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  • A work made of chromogenic print.


April 2004


Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

About this artwork


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Joel Sternfeld


Dacha/Staff Building, Gesundheit! Institute, Hillsboro, West Virginia, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 2004


Chromogenic print


No markings recto or verso When Dr. Patch Adams envisions the forty-bed rural community health care facility that he refers to as “the free silly hospital,” he hopes it will be “funny looking, full of surprises and magic.” Adams’ desire to humanize healthcare has always taken radical form. From 1971 to 1983, he and nineteen other adults and their children moved into a six-bedroom home and called themselves a hospital. Three of the adults were physicians. They were continuously open to patients and saw fifteen thousand people over a period of twelve years. Initial doctor/patient interviews were three to four hours long, “so that we could fall in love with each other.” Since no donations were received, nor was there any outside funding, the staff eventually left and the hospital closed. This led Adams to his present period of fundraising, which he often does in the guise of a clown. A three-hundred-acre farm has been purchased in West Virginia—chosen because it is the most medically under-served state in the nation— and two buildings have been constructed. The Dacha/Staff Building was designed by the Yestermorrow Design/Build School of Warren, Vermont. Amongst numerous other unconventional practices, the hospital will not charge for its services and neither will it carry malpractice insurance. Healing arts such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, herbalism and faith healing will be integrated into patient care. Patients and staff will stay at the hospital, and forty beds will be available for “plumbers, string quartets and anyone wanting a service-oriented vacation,” reflecting Adams’ vision that the health of the individual cannot be separated from the health of the community. Although the free silly hospital is not yet built, the idea of it can and does influence the dialogue on health care delivery systems. From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005


Image: 26.4 × 33.2 cm (10 7/16 × 13 1/8 in.); Paper: 27.9 × 35.5 cm (11 × 14 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall

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