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April 05, 2019 | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
Healthcare costs and access are two of the most pressing issues facing Americans today. For those living in rural areas, these concerns are even greater, since many residents live far away from medical professionals or hospitals.
The riveting full-length documentary "The Providers" views these issues by following the lives and work of three healthcare providers, including Matt Probst, a physician assistant and the medical director of El Centro Family Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving 23,600 square miles of northern New Mexico.
El Centro is different from many other hospitals or health centers, as they treat all patients who come to them.
"The Providers" also spotlights five patients and, as a result, puts a human face on the challenges involved with navigating the byzantine U.S. healthcare system.
In some ways, co-directors Laura Green and Anna Moot-Levin have been working toward making their debut feature film, "The Providers," their whole lives.
"We are both the children of healthcare providers ourselves and have a long-standing fascination with medicine," the women shared in a joint interview. "We grew up with dinner-table discussions about the unequal American healthcare system."
Across three years, Green and Moot-Levin filmed more than 100 days in New Mexico, which gave them unique insights into modern healthcare.
"We saw the ways the healthcare problems in these small towns are entwined with the broader challenges facing rural American communities, and witnessed firsthand the insidious connections between poverty, hopelessness, illness, and addiction," they say.
"We learned that building long-term trusting relationships with healthcare practitioners can have a profound impact on quality of life for individuals and communities."
However, the women were surprised to find that their "somewhat idealistic/romantic notion" of what they call the "'old country doctor' going door-to-door with a little black bag" was far different than the reality facing the trio of providers they met.
"Their warmth and connection to their small-town communities, and the breadth of the medicine they practice—they are true generalists in an era of specialists—is very much in keeping with the country doctor tradition," Green and Anna Moot-Levin say. "At the same time, we learned that many of today’s 'country docs' aren’t actually MDs; they are now nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who are working to meet small-towns’ primary health care needs."
The challenges are also different, the women add, and include an abundance of paperwork and intertwining substance use disorder treatment with primary care.
Still, Green and Anna Moot-Levin’s film speaks to the timeless power of compassion, and "the profoundly positive impact of human connection within healthcare, particularly for people who have been marginalized," they share.
"In different ways, each of the providers in the film connects deeply with their patients and the communities they serve. While nobody disputes that clinicians must excel at the 'science' of medicine— diagnosis and prescription —the film illuminates the ways that the 'art' of patient interaction can itself be healing.
"It is sometimes feeling cared about that makes the greatest difference for the most vulnerable patients."
PHOTO: Director Anna Moot-Levin on Camera and Director Laura Green on Sound filming at a patient's home in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Photo by Adria Malcolm.
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