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Back page: Law requires Argentine hospitals to staff clowns

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Tapping into the healing power of laughter, specially-trained clowns will be hired by public hospitals in Argentina's largest province, thanks to a new law that requires they be available to help treat child patients. Andres Kogan, a pediatrician who oversees a hospital program with clowns, said Friday that the law passed last month would be implemented over the next several months. Kogan said clowns don't just make children and their families feel better about being in a hospital, but they also help doctors get information from children who are shy, have been abused or are not able to communicate for any reason. Alejo Lacone, a 9-year-old left paralyzed after being hit by a car in March, is a good example of how that works. Because of a tracheotomy, the boy can't speak. However, three clowns at the Central Hospital of Pediatrics Dr. Claudio Zin, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, are able to get him to smile by acting out in front of him. The clowns come to the hospital every Thursday, making the rounds to rooms with children.