"Ive always thought it strange and unfortunate that people think nothing of acting angry and grumpy, but are self-conscious about demonstrating positive feelings," says Patch. "We all know how important love is, yet how often is it really emoted or exhibited? What so many sick people in this world suffer from--loneliness, boredom and fear--cant be cured with a pill."
Using unconventional methods and wacky surprises to ease patients anxiety and enhance their healing, Patch helped pioneer the then-startling idea that doctors should treat people, not just disease. Compassion, involvement and empathy, Patch holds, are as great a value to physicians as breakthrough medicines and technological advancements. Radical thinking, then and now.
As depicted in the film, few others initially share Patchs philosophy. The Universitys Dean Walcott staunchly opposes his methods, while Patchs roommate Mitch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) considers him to be no more than a childish goof.
"Mitch has a lot of parental expectations and feels enormous pressure to measure up to his familys idea of success," says Hoffman. "Hes under the gun and has no time or patience for anyone who doesnt take life as seriously as he does. He sees Patch dressed oddly and appearing to be carefree, and theres immediate tension. Mitch doesnt think he belongs there."