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Review: The Waiting Room

By BRETT MICHEL  |  November 27, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

"I haven't had a drink in 10 years, I've had two sisters and a brother that died, my dog died, my grandmother just died, my mother got ran over. Even without that, I've had anxiety." This isn't a line from a country song, they're the words of a patient in the packed waiting room of Oakland's Highland Hospital, and his problems are on the lesser end of the scale in director Peter Nicks's intimate, vérité-style documentary. Consider the 15-year-old emergency gunshot victim who receives the immediate attention of the valiant, overworked staff, who are forced to make all of the largely poor walk-ins awaiting treatment hold on a just a little bit longer as a life hangs in the balance. Shot over five months to form a composite look at a day in the trenches of a deeply flawed health care system, Nicks observes, Wiseman-like, without editorializing. If people believe Mitt Romney's assertion that emergency rooms are a solution for the uninsured, this is a powerful rebuke.

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 See all articles by: BRETT MICHEL