Cooper Green on the big screen

Last night, I picked up Edwina for an outing to the IMAX. Students from a colleague’s Ethnographic Filmmaking class screen their documentaries on the big screen at the end of each semester, and one of the shorts this time around centered on the woes at Cooper Green since it started scaling back services and sending indigent patients to other hospitals in Birmingham for care. Care, that is, that the population visiting Cooper Green can’t afford.

I tried to explain to Edwina what the IMAX was–she’d never heard of such a place–and how the images and sound in the theatre would surround her. Unfortunately, the screening for the students’ films used just the front of the screen so she didn’t get a taste of the “IMAX Experience.”

As people featured in the Cooper Green documentary started to file into the theatre before the screening, Edwina nudged me.

“I know that lady,” Edwina told me. “She down there at Cooper Green. I bet she in this movie.”

Indeed, she was. In one of the first scenes, “that lady” reported that her appointment with her primary doctor, who was leaving Cooper Green, had been moved from March to June. Then, she received notice that it had been changed again, this time to September.

“I guess that’s okay,” she said to the camera, “‘ssuming I don’t die before then.”

On the way to the theatre, Edwina and I had been talking about her own experiences of late with Cooper Green. Her primary physician was also leaving, so her appointment was in constant flux.

“Plus,” she told me, “I out of my blood pressure medicine and got just a few of my pain pills left. They keep tellin’ me to call this number for prescriptions, but they don’t call me back.”

Turns out that shutting down one division after another at Cooper Green hasn’t “fixed” the problem of how to treat sick people without health insurance or resources to pay steep medical bills. Go figure.

As we left after the screening, Edwina told me she loved “all of them shows–they just weren’t long enough.”

“I wanna go back for real, Miss Rayan,” she said. “See one of them other movies,” referring to the IMAX films advertised along the entryway to the theatre.

“Okay, we’ll find a time to go,” I said as we climbed back into the car and headed home.


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