This urgent, intimate film follows several patients seeking emergency treatment, and the medical staff members charged with their care. Shot in a direct, personal cinema verité style at Highland Hospital in East Oakland, California, the film examines a public institution struggling to provide help and comfort for a persistent and growing stream of largely uninsured patients living on the fringes of America's health care system.
A poignant blend of humor and drama, the film records its subjects without judgment or comment. The patients’ suffering and concern are powerfully portrayed through unobtrusive camera work and character voice-overs. The disparity between needs and resources quickly becomes evident, as dedicated caregivers must make tough choices based on available time, space and medical priority. While the film is a sobering look at a health care landscape marked by economic and political dysfunction, its humor and humanity provide an undercurrent of hope. [language]