Overview: Underserved and ignored, undocumented immigrants with medical issues often end up in emergency rooms for care, a costly last resort in which patients can be charged thousands of dollars for little more than an aspirin. Filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin (HBO’s PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER) shines a well-deserved light on Puentes de Salud, a health-care clinic in South Philadelphia, serves a population that all-too-easily slips through the cracks. At the facility, health volunteers address this problem by serving uninsured Latino immigrants who have nowhere else to turn and are increasingly reluctant to seek care in the current political climate.
Expectations: The health care system is a nasty beast in this country to begin with; I can just image the disservice done to its citizens let alone immigrants. I can only feel a strong sense of importance from the work this featured clinic does for humanity. I already feel the urge to champion its cause. The attached trailer reaffirms that sentiment. Even if it is for 40 minutes I am ready to go through its doors and witness the stories. Something tells me this documentary will leave an impression.
Gut Reaction: “I’m not here to discuss the politics. This is purely healthcare providers and the moral and ethical obligation,” quotes Dr. Jack Ludmir in the film. And I’m not here to talk the politics that this documentary raises either beyond the simple notion that, yeah, it is not fair for the hard workers of this country to deal with the ever-growing welfare state. But, that is not the issue in this documentary. The staff of the clinic is not arguing that the healthcare system is broken, that the welfare system is burdensome or that immigration needs attention; what they are saying is that there are human beings who need help and care like anyone else. In this case, they are the immigrants, regardless of status or origin.
The clinic is merely responding to patients in need and you’ve got to admire that. Who knew that South Philadelphia had such an influx of immigrants? The efforts to keep such an operation running is a great testament to the staff and this documentary can only help their cause.
The 40-minute film is all it takes to understand the situation, those in medical need and those who supply it. For each case depicted you see staff “jumping through hoops” and “pulling strings” as it were to meet the medical needs. Sure, the film could have gone on longer and detail many more stories of patients with ill health, no insurance and little hope. It didn’t need to, however, because it was enough time to address the topic and get the staff back to healing instead of filming.
In Conclusion: There are some good people out there helping those in need. They don’t need a big fanfare, they got filmed moments like this to tell their story and help draw attention to their cause. Just drop the politics for a second and see how they help humanity.
Next: The next documentary moves to primetime Saturday night with SPIELBERG. Over two hours all about auteur Steven Spielberg. It debuts Saturday, October 7 at 8:00pm.