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Interactive Documentary Archive

The Waiting Room

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By: Peter Nicks
Project type: collaborative Installation Web

This entry has been suggested and written by Hugo Soskin


The Waiting Room is a unique blend of locative media, social media and traditional documentary film that reveals a community disconnected from technology, the conversation about health care reform and equal access to care. It allows people passing through the waiting rooms of California’s public hospitals to express, connect and share their experience at a moment when seismic shifts are altering the landscape of health care in America. It is based on the premise that the expression and sharing of story by the under-served is vital to our nation’s understanding of the impact of public policy that is influenced by lobbyists and special interest groups. The project is also driven by the powerfully therapeutic benefits of providing a platform for people stuck in hospital waiting rooms to share their thoughts and feelings about their health and their lives; their hopes and their fears.

The Waiting Room does so through a unique blend of locative media, the web and traditional documentary film that reveals a community disconnected from technology, the conversation about health care reform and equal access to care. The pilot project  follows patients and staff at the Alameda County Medical Center, a public hospital that serves the uninsured in the Oakland, CA area. If the pilot proves successful the plan is to expand the project to other waiting rooms in selected clinics and hospitals in California.

The Waiting Room is comprised of four main components:

A feature-length cinema verité documentary film that uses unprecedented access to go behind the doors of an American safety-net hospital fighting for survival while weathering the storm of a persistent economic downturn. Following both patients and caregivers, the film tells the story of a diverse patient population coping with a remarkable array of health problems, while caregivers struggle to treat problems that extend well beyond their patients’ health.
The Waiting Room video blog, a politically independent, hyper-local platform that serves as a dynamic theme and issue-based story archive and launch point for dialogue on the problems facing the uninsured.
A self-sustaining interactive story booth placed in the waiting room at Highland Hospital (and eventually in other waiting rooms around the country) that will capture unedited, first-person stories recorded by the patients and hospital staff themselves. The booth project will also serve to encourage the use of technology by a community that is most disenfranchised by this nation’s digital divide. The hospital, which is now renovating their waiting room, has allowed us to include the booth as a permanent installation as they complete renovations of in coming months.
Short webisodes  produced by video journalists and filmmakers that will follow patients and staff over time as they navigate the public health care system.
In keeping with the hyper-local nature of the project, our initial core audience will be those that pass through the waiting room itself: patients, caregivers and hospital administrators at Highland Hospital. The secondary audience – local community non-profits, and journalists – will be reached through strategic partnerships with organizations that are already working on behalf of patients and medical institutions that care for the under-served in the Bay Area. The core framework of the project (anchored by the interactive story booth) is replicable and relies on volunteers, citizen engagement and strategic partnerships for its sustainability. But first and foremost The Waiting Room gives the under-served a voice not just at a critical moment in their lives, but also at a moment of critical importance in the evolution of our nation’s health care system.

More about it:

See the Waiting Room

My comments:

This entry has been written and suggested by Hugo Soskin, but he has not expressed his comments on the project.

Personally I have seen the interactive version of the  Waiting Room at the Sheffield DocFest 2010 and it seemed a very interesting project – although it was a collection of videoblogs without a lot of linking between them. The existence of a full length documentary should fill the holes… Basically this is a project to follow, as it will expand and change in the years to come!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 16th, 2010

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  1. On December 17th, 2015 at 06:59 Willis wrote:

    Hi, so sad to hear about the sickness of your hsabund, i hope he is well soon, for you too!Take care of your self, you are too important, i hope he will back at home soon. I send you all my love and greetingsjet

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