Film showing at UIHC addresses uninsured patients at American hospitals


A father of three children is filmed as he cries in front of his children. His son can no longer play baseball, and his elder daughter, who is lying in the patient room, cannot pay for her hip-hop dance classes anymore because the father lost his job.

This is only one scene depicted in The Waiting Room, a documentary presented on Tuesday Night at the Pomerantz Center. The film seeks to inform audiences about public hospitals in America having to care for uninsured patients.

While debate over health-care expansion continues at the state and federal levels, the film seeks to provide the audience with a sense of what can be seen in public hospitals on any given day.

“A lot of the issues of access and how these waiting rooms are used as primary care are relevant in hospitals, not just in Oakland, but here in Iowa and all over the country,” said Peter Nicks, the director, producer, and cinematographer of The Waiting Room. “One of the biggest ones is using the ER as your doctor, and that’s something that the health care is trying to fix.”

The Iowa Public Policy Center partnered with FilmScene for the free screening of the film. The Waiting Room is the second in a three-part series of film showings between FilmScene and Iowa City officials, the purpose of which is to engage locals in conversation about social issues.

Peter Damiano, the director of the Public Policy Center, said the film addresses two important issues.

“The movie raises a lot of issues such as the lack of preventable care of people, and it blends the health-care and policy side with the arts and humanity,” he said.

The film shows the challenges that people face every day in order to get access to health care. However, a lot of emergency services are not as quick as some would hope, bringing up issues for the patients who are forced to wait.

“The importance is building awareness of the challenges of providing care out to the larger of the urban hospitals, and the challenge is receiving care,” said Keith Mueller, head of the Department of Health Management and Policy.

During the process of producing the film, Nicks said his initial goal was to form a conversation about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Nothing’s guaranteed in life,” Nicks said. “There’s some life event that could put you at risk and make you rely on the safety-net system and none of us are immune to that.”   

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