This past Tuesday, the Anthropology and Sociology Department, in partnership with the Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good, the Film Studies program, the Modern Languages department, the Psychology department, the Latin American Studies department, and the UCARE office presented the documentary “Clinica de Migrantes: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The documentary focused on the patients from Puentes de Salud, a clinic which provides medical care for undocumented immigrants. The film portrays the community using a humanistic approach in which the audience sees the systematic oppression the group faces due to the lack of basic necessities. Many of the patients suffer from pain due to performing physical labor in dangerous conditions. Co-founder Dr. Steve Larson, along with staff, provide resources to help the suffering community.
Larson visited campus for the screening. He spoke with students about the ways race, economics and class intersect with healthcare disparities in the capitalist system.
Professors agreed with many of his thoughts.
“This documentary shines a light on this injustice, illuminating not only the ways in which injustice in our healthcare systems is directly associated with oppression and human suffering, but also the necessity of purposeful community engagement and a countercultural medical practice that is not driven by profits as tools that should be used to begin to heal a broken system,” said Dr. Vanessa Volpe, who researches health disparities.
In addition to the clinical services Puentes provides, educational and psychological services are available. The holistic approach used by Puentes helps patients with various aspects of working and living in the U.S as an immigrant worker.
Students watching the documentary were able to reflect on how the film highlights both problems in medicine and how there are people, like Dr. Larson, attempting to reduce health care disparities.
“I found the film to be very
enlightening on one, the problems in the healthcare system in America, and two, that there are still good doctors practicing for the right reasons,” Ryley Bennett ’21 said.
Although the documentary raised awareness of healthcare disparities, there is still plenty of work to be done off campus. Larson talked about the ways students volunteer in his clinics, and professors weighed in on the importance of learning about and addressing inequalities.
“Raising awareness about health disparities is crucial because health disparities are rooted in social injustice. Until we make this injustice visible as the root cause of these disparities we may think that we are helping reduce health disparities, but we instead may only be replicating the inequitable conditions which prevent all members of our society from thriving,” Dr. Volpe said.
Volunteer opportunities are available at Puentes de Salud, which includes aiding various programs the clinic runs, such as yoga classes and after-school programs. For more information visit the organization’s website, http://www.puentesdesalud.org/volunteer/