Hot Docs: Remote Area Medical – Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman

Scotiabank played host to a heartbreaking presentation of this beautiful film that shows the terrible state of medicine in the United States and its practice.

Remote Are Medical, created by Stan Brock (who seems to travel everywhere by bike), was established to bring doctors to the Amazon.

Recent times however, have necessitated them to bring more work inside the States, in this case Bristol, Tennessee. The people of this town and surrounding area can’t afford doctors, or drug assistance, and all seem to be in a terrible state, needing everything from a simple checkup to mammograms to thousands dollars worth of dentistry or optometry.

The event is scheduled for a Friday people have been in the parking lot queued up since Tuesday. There is only a select amount of  tickets each day, and this, as expected causes problems but most people get some much-needed attention.

Brock, and his volunteers take on all they can. Set up at the Bristol Motor Speedway, they set up camp, organizing departments, lines and transportation.

As tickets are given out, with some desperate folk attempting to jump the queue, these folks share there ills, and hopes for what will happen when their number is called.

Remote_Area_Medical_2The volunteers maintain an upbeat behavior with everyone, some of whom are reduced to tears in their thanks for alleviating their pain. From a truck driver who is also a doctor, bringing his x-ray services, denture makers, optometrists  (including a charming couple who have been helping out for years).

The patients don’t always get as much as they want, due to constrictions, lack of resources or doctors, but everyone is tended to in one way or another. Glasses are made, teeth are pulled, illnesses are discovered and aid and compassion are given.

Reichert and Zaman have created a wonderfully balanced and objective look at this event, this organization. It is not making any judgements, the camera just simply shows all sides of everything that is going on…

From the long days the doctors and their volunteers are putting in (everything starts on time), to the people who want to get tickets ahead of time, to people who can only be there for one day…

It is a sad commentary on the state of medicine in America that what should be considered a fundamental service to its people is so difficult for them to have, one that needs to be addressed.

But there is hope here too, as it is amazing to see so many people willing to help out their fellow human beings. And with hope, comes the ability for change…

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