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Lindsay fires up hot-button healthcare documentary

Lindsay fires up hot-button healthcare documentary

Health care in America is a political firestorm in Washington, D.C. and, for the rest of us, a volatile mix of profits, patients and primary care that needs to be purged in order to save our lives and our country.

That is the message of the incendiary film “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare.” The documentary directed by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke attempts to shed light on the hot button issue of how to save America’s backwards and broken health care system. Escape Fire examines the powerful forces maintaining the status quo, a medical industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. After decades of resistance, a movement to bring innovative high-touch, low-cost methods of prevention and healing into our high-tech, costly system is finally gaining ground. Award-winning filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke follow dramatic human stories as well as leaders fighting to transform healthcare at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government, and even the US military.

The views and ideas expressed in the film can be summed up by the following quote from Dr. Andy Weil, a pioneer in preventative medicine: “We do not have a health care system in this Country. We have a disease management system.”

The 99-minute film will be shown at the Lindsay Wellness Center at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27. Admission to the showing is free as it is being being sponsored by the Lindsay Seventh-Day Adventist Church. According to the film’s website, www.escaprefiremovie.com, some of the issues raised in the film are:

• An Entrenched System: Pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, hospitals, and insurance companies are all profiting on our declining health. And all those companies spend their money lavishly – millions of dollars go to Washington lobbyists – to ensure that nothing ever changes.

•Overmedication: We spend roughly $300 billion annually on pharmaceutical drugs – nearly as much as the rest of the world combined.

• Overtreatment: One of the hardest things to understand as a patient is that “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” But it’s imperative that we do. Recent studies have shown that “more” can often mean “worse” when it comes to our health.

•Paying More Getting Less: We pay more, yet our health outcomes are worse. We give well-intentioned doctors, nurses, and hospitals the wrong tools and the wrong incentives, and it results in higher costs and poorer health.

• Preventing Disease: 75% of healthcare costs go to treating diseases that are largely preventable. That’s a lot of unnecessary money, and worse, a lot of unnecessary disease.

• Reimbursement: The healthcare system often uses a “a fee-for-service” model of payment – government or private insurers pay a hospital or a physician every time a procedure is performed.

• Treating The Whole Person: Your body isn’t a car, but that’s how it’s handled when you take it into the doctor’s office. Instead of being treated as a person, your broken parts get fixed separately, one by one.

The critically acclaimed film debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and aired on CNN in March. Since then, Escapre Fire has received numerous awards including a human rights award, social issues award, best documentary, best director and audience awards at eight separate film festivals throughout the United States.

The film is named after an influential speech delivered by Dr. Don Berwick years before he took office as the head of Medicare and Medicaid. The speech was published as a healthcare manifesto called “Escape Fire: Lessons for the Future of Healthcare.” Dr. Berwick drew parallels between the broken healthcare system and a 1949 forest fire that ignited in Mann Gulch, Montana. A team of 15 smokejumpers parachuted into the canyon to contain the fire, only to find themselves pinned in. Foreman Wag Dodge invented an on-the-spot solution by setting fire to the grass directly in front of him. The fire spread quickly uphill, and he stepped into the middle of the newly burnt area, calling for his crew to join him.

But nobody followed Dodge. Clinging to what they had been taught, they continued on their course. The fire raged past Wag Dodge and overtook the crew, killing 13 men and burning 3,200 acres. Dodge survived, nearly unharmed. Dodge’s tactic is now a standard practice known as “escape fire.”

As Berwick says in the film, “We’re in Mann Gulch. Healthcare, it’s in really bad trouble. The answer is among us. Can we please stop and think and make sense of the situation and get our way out of it?”

The Wellness Center is located at 860 N. Sequoia Drive in Lindsay.

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