Documentary: The Waiting Room
There are two questions that get asked again and again throughout Peter Nicks' film, The Waiting Room: "Do you have a regular doctor?" and "Do you carry health insurance?" And the answer that you hear over and over to both questions is a simple "no." After watching this extraordinary documentary (which somehow manages to be at once disheartening and life-affirming) I had to ask myself a question: "Does this country have a completely [f'd]-up health care system?" To which I answer with a simple "yes." Not that Nicks has set out to make a self-consciously polemical statement on the health care crisis. Quite simply, he allows the pure objectivity of a filmed record to speak for itself.
The premise is straightforward: document a "typical" 24 hour period in the life of a bustling public ER (in this case, at Oakland's Highland Hospital) and compress it into a 90-minute film. And as you would expect, all forms of human misery are on display, in a microcosm of Everything That Can Go Wrong with these ridiculously fragile shells we inhabit for "...eighty years, with luck-or even less" (if I may quote my favorite Pink Floyd song). A sweet little girl with a severe case of strep struggles to communicate as her loving parents take turns at her bedside. An uninsured 20-something couple (a man who has just learned he has a tumor, and his concerned wife) desperately confab with hapless and over-taxed attending physicians about how he's supposed to arrange the "emergency" surgery recommended by a private hospital that has palmed him off on Highland’s ER...
On my list to see. My mom worked all her life as a nurse.