healing healthcare documentary

I have started a new documentary film effort about healing healthcare in the United States in collaboration with inspiring health and humanities visionary Laura Hope-Gill of Narrative Healthcare as well as climate leaders Laura Turner-Seydel and Veronica Butcher of Mothers and Others for Clean Air. I am honored to be on a listening journey, filming doctors, surgeons, nurses, counselors, and health care providers.

A few highlights from production so far:

North Carolina – Narrative Healthcare

We began in Asheville, North Carolina at the inspiring Narrative Healthcare Symposium: Medicine Beyond Medication hosted by Laura Hope-Gill. I listened to Dr. Charon about how “The Humanities Have What Medicine Needs”. Dr. Charon is a Distinguished Jefferson Scholar of the National Endowment for the humanities, Harvard-trained physician with a PhD in English literature, Founder of the Program in Narrative Medicine, the founding Chair and Professor of Medical Humanities and Ethics, and Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

We listened to Dr. Waters, recently retired heart surgeon, who is now Professor of Surgery as well as Course Director for Literature and Narrative Medicine in the Department Of Medical Humanities & Bioethics. Dr. Waters shared his thoughts on the healing that happens through storytelling – and how listening is an important solution for both doctors and patients.

We closed out the symposium in an empowering listening session with Tanya Davis, counselor, master of narrative medicine, and so much more. She founded an empowerment retreat for young girls in under-resourced communities called A Purpose by Design. Each year, girls join other women for a weekend of workshops-from Health to Goal Planning. She believes in the power of story, their ability to transform the lives of others, and by bearing witness with each other, as we share, our stories create a healing wave.

Georgia – Climate and Air Pollution Loop

We traveled to Atlanta to film a Grand Rounds on the climate and air pollution loop by Dr. Birdsong, hosted by Mothers and Others for Clean Air. Grand Rounds are an important method of medical education, weaving science and stories, consisting of presenting the medical problems and treatment to an audience of doctors, residents, and medical students.

It was an honor to film Dr. Hartley at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. It was enlightening to listen to pulmonary expert Dr. Hartley and learn how health professionals can bridge their expertise with education and advocacy through the power of storytelling to connect the dots for real solutions.

We listened to Dr. Brooks at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She is providing care and solutions for children dealing with respiratory problems due to the air pollution and climate impacts loop. She is seeing so much, taking time to listen, and doing such important work every day. 

We wrapped our Atlanta journey filming Nurse Johnnie at Educare Atlanta. She isn’t the school nurse, but she’s based in a school. She greets the parents and children every morning so they know she’s there to listen and help connect them to the resources or support they need. She shares stories with policy makers and groups to help level the playing field.

Tennessee – Narrative Healthcare

We had a great day listening with Ballad Health in Tennessee. Their slogan is “It’s Your Story, We’re Listening”, and they have a on-staff Director of Storytelling, Deborah Lowery. We filmed at Franklin Woods Community Hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee. We listened to Nurse Kim Jessee, Nurse Manager ICU/PCU (intensive care unit/progressive care unit) and Deborah Lowery, Director of Storytelling, about how listening and storytelling can benefit health workers, patients, and communities.

We listened at Unicoi County Hospital in Erwin, Tennessee, where Ballad Health has partnered with Kiran Sing Sirah, President, International Storytelling Center. Kiran believes in a better life, a better world, through the power of storytelling. One of the projects they are working on together is a Junior Board of Directors. Among other activities, the Junior Board provides a platform for the children in the community to share stories and for Eric Carroll, the hospital Administrator, to listen.

I am learning so much and reeling from the power of the stories we are hearing. I’m so grateful to do this work, listening to these real-life super-hero humans with unique perspectives and expertise. Thank you to all who have supported this Climate Listening Project journey.

I’m honored to be working on location with New Southern Films Polly Schattel!

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