‘The Color of Care’ will help end healthcare inequality, says Director Jans Ford 2022-04-29 16:54:55


It has been two years since the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd made it impossible for many Americans to ignore the racist control of American institutions. The Covid-19 crisis has exposed deep inequalities in the healthcare system – but widespread change is yet to come. To highlight these ongoing issues, Oprah executive produced an eye-opening new documentary, care color.

The film, which premieres on the Smithsonian Channel on May 1, focuses on the stories of families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, including one that led Oprah to the project: “I read a story about Gary Fowler, the black man who died in his house because there was no A hospital that could treat him despite the symptoms of Covid-19.” “This movie is my way of doing something, with the goal that the stories we share serve as a warning and foster a deeper understanding of the changes that must occur to better serve us all.”

Oprah called on Oscar-winning director Jens Ford to amplify these stories. Ford previously directed the true crime documentary strong islandWhich tells the story of the murder of his brother William by a white man who was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. Ford hired medical experts, including Neil Shah, MD, chief medical officer of the Maven Clinic and assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, to reveal how structural racism in the health care system can negatively impact outcomes. Health – and for some, it’s a death sentence.

Movie premiere

Director Jens Ford at the premiere of the movie care color.

Larry French//Getty Images

Both Ford and Dr. Shah spoke to us about their motivations for participating in the documentary, what it was like on set, and what they hope people will benefit from. care color.

The film highlights how the healthcare system works – and how it doesn’t.

“When you see something that gives you the opportunity to expose the function of something as old as racial inequality in health care, it’s an opportunity to make a difference in our culture,” Ford says. He was excited to be part of a project that would expose systemic problems – but he also couldn’t say no to working on something with Ms. Winfrey herself. “Anyone who gets a call from Oprah Winfrey, who has been responsible for so much enlightening, meaningful, and important content in our culture – it’s a day you’ll never forget.”

Ford contacted Dr. Shah a few months after the outbreak of the epidemic. “At the time, I was a front-line physician, but I was also doing research on racial inequality in maternal health,” says Dr. Shah. While he was apprehensive about being in front of the camera—and whether he was even the right expert because he hadn’t directly experienced healthcare inequality—Ford convinced him.

Neil Shah color care

Dr. Neil Shah provides medical commentary in language care color.

Smithsonian Channel/Harpo Productions

“Dr. Shah is able to clarify a lot of things about medicine and the way the Foundation of Medicine works in really accessible ways,” says Ford. This clear communication from many of the participants is what makes the film so touching, according to Dr. Shah. “Part of its strength is that it takes a consistent look at these families who are directly affected, but it also has a number of people in leadership positions in American medicine speaking honestly about what they were seeing,” he says.

Progress means being willing to be uncomfortable.

For families sharing their stories, empathy was the most important piece. “It’s always humbling when people are able to share cherished memories of a loved one they lost because it brings that person back to life in a way that very little other things can,” Ford says.

“I want the next generation of doctors to be the end of health inequality.” – Jans Ford

On the other hand, getting to the root of the injustice created clearly difficult conversations as well. “The only way to make progress is by having a tendency to get that kind of discomfort,” says Dr. Shah. “I am a person of color, but I do not have a full sense of what it means to be one of the affected families. Speaking in frank terms about racism within the institutions that I am part of leadership is uncomfortable, and I think that is what it takes to move forward.” However, Ford’s compassionate aura led to an open environment. “Somehow, despite all this injustice and these painful stories, he handled the whole thing with amazing empathy for everyone, which has made me as comfortable as I can be candid and critical,” says Dr. Shah.

Real systemic change is possible.

Even amid this heavy topic, both Ford and Dr. Shah are optimistic. “I don’t think people are going to leave the movie disappointed,” says Dr. Shah. “I think the opposite. It lands on a rallying cry. The reason it works is because there is such sharp moral clarity portrayed.” Part of this clarity comes from recognizing the group rather than the individual. “When we think of the institutions in our country, we tend to think of our individual interactions,” Ford explains. “But it’s not about pointing fingers or wanting to have villains or heroes. Doctors and other healthcare providers, are stuck in the same system. If we can all recognize and acknowledge that the system is there and work in it, we can all try to figure out our way out of it.”

“The only way to make progress is to get upset.” -doctor. Shah

Dr. Shah echoes a similar idea. “Bad system will defeat the good one every time. When bad things happen, you think, Well, this wasn’t just a good hospital. But this really shows a pattern that affects different people in communities across the country. the one [thing] The common denominator between them is that they are people of color,” he says.

“I want the next generation of doctors to be the end of health inequity,” says Ford. “There are many reasons to be hopeful after watching this movie. There are all kinds of reasons to act. As Oprah says, change is just the cure for this. It’s important to remember that. .”

Watch care color On the Smithsonian Channel On May 1, 2022, at 8:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM CST.

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