Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Thursday, 07 March 2013 12:00

'The Waiting Room': A glaring reminder of the place medicine happens

'The Waiting Room': A glaring reminder of the place medicine happens whatruwaitingfor.com
Written by Martha K. Baker
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

  • Director: Peter Nicks
  • Dates: Opened March 2013

Spending 24 hours in an emergency room is not anyone's idea of fun. It's a place where dignity and self-sufficiency become humiliation and dependency. That's common knowledge. What "The Waiting Room" shows is much more than that.

Director Peter Nicks was allowed unprecedented access to 24 hours in the emergency department of Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif. He shows the range of kindness and shortness, the expertise and waste, and the scheduling along with the bureaucracy.

He does not layer people's lives with the voices of experts explaining what is clearly visible. He simply shows what it's like to be sick and to have no where else to go. The room fills up with tongues -- Asian, Hispanic, white English and black.

Triage means the sicker go ahead of those waiting already. A tack-sharp triage nurse, with her sparkly glasses, roves between being crisply efficient to being maternal, calling every patient "baby." To a young man who spews obscenities, this nurse declares that his mother did not raise him to talk like that and she insists that he not disrespect her. He is suitably cowed. This same nurse patiently explains to in-comers that they should take a seat to wait.

A father brings in a feverish child of 8. He's more nervous than she. She has trouble swallowing; he has trouble sitting still. Then his ex-wife shows up, and the two of the do the dance of the divorced as each tries to care for their baby girl.

A young man, scheduled for testicular surgery, has been referred from another hospital because he does not have insurance. He still needs surgery and he still does not have insurance. His girlfriend runs interference in a kindly way, explaining over and over to every uniformed medico who attends her boyfriend what the situation is, medically and economically. People walk in with shopping bags of orange pill bottles, and people are wheeled in by their families.

Meanwhile, the head of the emergency department works with scheduling nurses, manipulating computer programs to figure out who gets a bed, who has to stay in the hall, who is seen next. The colors assigned to the situations turn the computer screen into a party no one wants to attend. Doctors call in favors and call for consultations. And the patients wait and wait. Some leave with a diagnosis and a prescription; some leave as bent as before. "The Waiting Room" is one of those documentaries terribly hard to release from your mind because the cast of characters has staying power. "The Waiting Room" educates beyond anything a textbook can.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Karate Bikini - A Simpler Sugar

Wed November 26
Karate Bikini is an eight piece ensemble who's members hail from St. Louis and the metro area. They are a large band with a large sound. Their latest album A Simpler Sugar is full of upbeat pop songs,…

Jah Orah and KD Assassin

Wed November 19

KDHX Recommends

November
Friday
28

Rock 'n Roll Craft Show

Luminary Center for the Arts Rock n Roll Craft Show is an alternative art, craft and music event showcasing unique items handcrafted from new and recycled materials. rocknrollcraftshow.com


November
Sunday
30

December
Friday
05

First Fridays

The Contemporary Art Museum hosts First Firdays, an evening of art, music and culture held on the first Friday of each month. The event will feature DJ's, staff led tours, a Fundred Dollar Drawing Workshop and much more.


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Online Users

1 user and 10512 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook