Finding out about wisdom teeth the hard way

In my 23 years of life, I’ve had health insurance for only 2 of them. Growing up, my Dad made just enough money so that I didn’t qualify for medicaid, but not enough to be able to purchase insurance. Despite this, my parents never denied me needed healthcare, charging everything to our version of health insurance: the credit card. But now, as a young adult watching my parents try to unbury themselves from a mountain of strangling medical debt, I’ve resolved to not let the same fate befall me. My version of health insurance? Do not go to the doctor until I am 99.9% sure I am dying.

This was working fairly well for me until last year. I was relatively healthy most of the time, and was astounded to learn how many things would go away on their own with no antibiotics.

Then, in the fall, a few months after moving to a new town for school, a bad flu knocked me to my feet. And since I had been off my asthma medications for over 4 years due to the prohibitive cost (not of the drugs themselves, which I had been on since I was 6, but of the doctor [...] continue the story

About the Storytelling Project

The Waiting Room Storytelling Project is a location-based social media and community engagement initiative that aims to improve the patient experience through the collection and sharing of digital content. This cultural data – video, data visualizations, photographs and text – is collected in the waiting room by creating frameworks for sharing that range from anonymous expressions of feeling to deeper storytelling.

The primary aim of the platform is to uncover the needs of underserved patients at a moment when the role of the “Safety Net” is being debated both in America and abroad. We also aim to develop tools for patients that allow them to take a more active role in their health care experience. To this end, we aim to expand and foster the organizational capacity for storytelling at Highland Hospital by creating a robust, scalable platform that can amplify the voices and needs of the most underserved communities in our country.

As America’s health care system sits poised to undergo its greatest transformation in generations, we will capture history unfolding and make sure that the story is told from the bottom up, not just the top down, using a unique combination of social media platforms and traditional documentary film. We [...] continue the story

The Waiting Room: Under Pressure

 

Mark Wilkerson talks about the pressure he’s under after being laid off from his job as a supply clerk. He doesn’t know when he’ll find work and is struggling to manage his health without insurance. But Mark believes God will bless him. “It’s gonna be all right.”

More  video from The Waiting Room.

The Waiting Room: Blessed

 

Kamal Conyers talks about his gratitude for having someplace to go despite not being able to afford health insurance. More  video from The Waiting Room.

Trailer: The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film – using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover – offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.

The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. Steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. The film weaves the stories of several patients – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – as they cope with the complexity of the nation’s public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession.

The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution coping with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. It is a film about [...] continue the story