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  • The public hospital ER is the institution of last resort for many Americans.

    The public hospital ER is the institution of last resort for many Americans.

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  • Go behind the scenes of a real life ER.

    Go behind the scenes of a real life ER.

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  • Waiting room stories personalize healthcare crisis.

    Waiting room stories personalize healthcare crisis.

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  • Certified Nurse Assistant Cynthia Y. Johnson at Highland Hospital in The Waiting Room

    Certified Nurse Assistant Cynthia Y. Johnson at Highland Hospital in The Waiting Room

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  • The Waiting Room atHighland Hospital in Oakland, CA

    The Waiting Room atHighland Hospital in Oakland, CA

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  • Demia Bruce comforts his daughter Deja Bruce in The Waiting Room

    Demia Bruce comforts his daughter Deja Bruce in The Waiting Room

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  • Dr. Douglas White bedside in The Waiting Room

    Dr. Douglas White bedside in The Waiting Room

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  • The Waiting Room Director, Peter Nicks

    The Waiting Room Director, Peter Nicks

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The Film

Highland Hospital, a vital part of the city of Oakland, California and the surrounding county, is stretched to the breaking point. It is the primary care facility for 250,000 patients of nearly every nationality, race, and religion, with 250 patients crowding its emergency room every day.

The Waiting Room is an immersive documentary film that weaves together several stories that unfold in surprising ways in the ER waiting room. It is an intimate rendering of the story of our health care system at a moment of great change told through the eyes of people stuck — sometimes for up to 14 hours — in the waiting room. The film tells the story of a remarkably diverse population – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – battling their way through the seismic shifts in the nation's health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession. It is a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together as humans.

In a purposefully fragmented style, the film will follow young victims of gun violence, artists and small business owners who lack insurance, steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers, as well as the young doctors, nurses and hospital executives struggling to keep the hospital running smoothly.

With the swelling ranks of the uninsured exerting unprecedented pressure on public hospitals, the state budget crisis undermining social service and medical funding, and the current health care reform package threatening to gut public hospitals, Highland faces extinction. Meanwhile, it's just another day in waiting room.

The Filmmakers

  1. Pete NicksDirector/Producer
  2. Linda DavisProducer