FROM THE GRIO — A new documentary out today, The Waiting Room, exposes the woes of the health care system through the backdrop of an emergency department waiting room.
“I spent a lot of time in the hospital before shooting the film,” says film director Peter Nicks. “I would walk through the ER waiting room on the way to my meetings. I would come back and see a lot of the same people in the waiting room.”
Viewers experience not only the frustrations of the patients, but also glimpses into their personal stories as we eavesdrop on their conversations.
Taking place in Oakland’s Highland Hospital, most patients are uninsured — including the newly uninsured who lost their insurance when they lost their jobs. The hospital, like many, is a safety net for those who can’t afford timely care. It tells the story of a segment of the health care system oft overlooked.
“This is a community that needed to speak for itself — no narration, no text cards,” Nicks says. “Highland is very representative of a lot of communities around the country.”
Nicks aims to put faces behind a health care debate that has become more political and partisan than about helping individual patients.
“The voices that are dominating health care reform discussions are journalists, politicians, pundits, analysts, but not the people stuck in these waiting rooms,” he says.
Nicks says that as he’s shown the film in various cities, several people have told him that he is telling their story – even those 2,000 miles away from Oakland.