Independent Lens: The Providers

Independent Lens: The Providers

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 10:00pm - 11:00pm

Nurse Practitioner Chris Ruge en route to visit a patient. 

Credit: Courtesy of Anna Moot-Levin

Follow three "country doctors" in rural New Mexico -- the site of a physician shortage and an opioid epidemic -- who work at clinics that offer care for all, regardless of ability to pay.

Set against the backdrop of the physician shortage, and opioid epidemic in rural America, The Providers follows three healthcare professionals in northern New Mexico at El Centro, a group of safety-net clinics that offer care to anyone who walks through the doors. Amidst personal struggles that reflect those of their patients, the journeys of the providers unfold as they work to reach those who would otherwise be left out of the healthcare system. With intimate access, the film shows the transformative power of providers’ relationships with marginalized patients. Directed by Laura Green and Anna Moot-Levin, both the children of doctors, The Providers , an Independent Lens presentation, premieres Monday, April 8, 2019 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV. 

Over the course of the film, the three providers — family physician Leslie Hayes, nurse practitioner Chris Ruge, and El Centro Medical Director Matt Probst — remain unfailingly compassionate despite a range of challenges from the system to their patients, and sometimes even their own families. Leslie believes it is critical for primary care doctors to treat patients who use opioids as part of their regular practice. When other physicians don’t want “those people” in their medical center, she says, “they’re already in your waiting room — you’re just not identifying and treating them.”

Medical director and physician assistant Matt is coping with a physician shortage and has begun training P.A.’s to be the new front line of medical care. His own background includes two family members who have struggled with addiction, his father and sister. Nurse practitioner Chris is part of a special program that allows him to visit the homes of the most marginalized patients, and believes his relationship with them is making a difference. “The job offers me the opportunity to actually be walking alongside patients and helping them find the door,” he says. “Some people you need to open the door just once. Other people it’s months and years. If you open enough doors they will walk through that door with you.”