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Continued: Movies: "War Witch,” "Barbara,” "The Waiting Room”

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  • Last update: March 22, 2013 - 5:13 PM

Peter Nicks’ documentary is a fly-on-the-wall view of controlled chaos in the emergency room of Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif. It’s an understaffed, underfunded facility that’s overcrowded by underinsured patients, a war zone minus the shooting. What lifts his film beyond the parade of traumas we’ve seen on countless TV medical dramas is the focus on how shrinking resources turn patient care into a logistical nightmare of musical beds, premature discharges and patients lost in the shuffle. The staff works heroically to deal with the influx of families lacking proper primary care, but a steady stream of violence victims flows in like a riptide. It’s a vivid portrait of the crisis in health care policy, with the caregivers and clinic itself as much on life support as the sick people.

 

 

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