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Spending Time in "The Waiting Room"

PHOTO: The waiting room at Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., featured in the film "The Waiting Room."
PHOTO: The waiting room at Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., featured in the film "The Waiting Room."
January 10, 2013

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Think "E.R." - but in real life. That's what audiences experience when viewing the film "The Waiting Room." The Academy-Award-shortlisted documentary portrays a day in the life of one of America's public hospitals. It focuses on the people in the hospital's waiting room - the patients, and the doctors and nurses who care for them.

Director Peter Nicks says the film may be about Highland Hospital in Oakland, but the experiences of the caregivers and patients there are universal.

"The system was broken but the people were not. The caregivers and the patients were a collection of remarkable human beings who were just trying to get by."

He says he wasn't interested in making a polemic film or one that pointed fingers. Instead, it allows the audience to simply overhear the stories found in the hospital. Nicks began the film by gathering stories of people waiting for care, he says.

"We just went into the waiting room and the question was "What are you waiting for?" We were just interested in who they were and allowing people a chance to share a little bit of their humanity."

Nicks' wife works at Highland, but he says the hospital is a microcosm of America.

"We're grappling with major policy challenges from health care to the economy to immigration to violence. These stories that gathered and passed through the waiting room really touched on a lot of those significant issues."

"The Waiting Room" has its Arizona premiere this spring at the Loft Theater in Tucson. More information about the film is available at www.whatruwaitingfor.com.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ