Documentary About Rural Health Care at LBI Foundation March 9

Three organizations are joining hands to present the award-winning documentary “The Providers” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, located at 120 Long Beach Blvd. in the Loveladies neighborhood of Long Beach Township.

The LBIF, obviously, is one. The Lighthouse International Film Society, which frequently collaborates with the Foundation, is another. The third organization is Coastal Volunteers in Medicine (Coastal VIM), which is, fitting of its name, a group of volunteer physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, translators and administrative volunteers who operate a free non-emergency family medical clinic for Southern Ocean County residents who have a family income below 250 percent of the federal poverty level and have no insurance.

Why is Coastal VIM involved with the screening? Because “The Providers,” directed by Laura Green and Anna Moot-Levin, follows three medical professionals – two doctors and a nurse practitioner – who work for El Centro Family Health, a network of family health clinics in northern New Mexico that struggles to meet the medical needs of patients, regardless of their ability to pay, in a huge area of over 23,600 square miles in seven largely rural counties. If that task wouldn’t be enough of a challenge, the region is also among the top five in the country for heroin overdoses.

Frank Scheck reviewed the 85-minute film for The Hollywood Reporter last November, writing the documentary “delivers a deeply moving portrait of selflessness and dedication that feels particularly timely in this era of division between the red and blue states. Recently showcased at DOC NYC (the country’s largest documentary film festival), the film should be essential viewing in medical schools pumping out highly paid specialists catering to the wealthy.”

Scheck concluded his review by saying “that a program such as the one spotlighted in the film even exists is heartening. But, of course, its existence is threatened by a potential loss of funding; a crisis that adds suspense to the final section. It becomes painfully clear that all the good intentions and dedication in the world aren’t enough if lives are measured only in dollars and cents.”

That story line would seem familiar to the volunteers of Coastal VIM. The organization first opened its doors in Barnegat in 2013. It has had to move twice since, first to Manahawkin and then to its current location at 730 Lacey Rd., Suite G9, in Forked River. And Southern Ocean County has had its own opioid problem in the past several years.

Director Green is scheduled to be Skyping in for a Q&A following the film’s screening.

Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door. There is no charge for LBIF members.

—R.M.

Reposted from The Sandpaper