Week 12: 5B

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    5B is a fantastic representation of a nurse’s primary duty as a healthcare provider: to care. The HIV/AIDS epidemic was plagued by so much stigma toward victims of the disease that even on the patients’ deathbeds, they were completely alone. Cliff Morrison told Mary Magee she had to get out of the mindset of curing people, and get into the mindset of caring for them. Cliff said that if they couldn’t cure them, they would at least touch them and make them feel seen and important. At the heart of medical care, there is the care aspect of being a provider, of validating patients’ most basic human need to feel connected and cared for. Rita Rockett, a performer and volunteer, helped create family dinners for ward 5B. These events gave patients back an aspect of their joy and by providing them with happiness and a surrogate family, she extended their lives and immeasurably expanded their quality of life. I found it interesting that President Reagan waited to address HIV/AIDS in the public eye until thousands of Americans had already died from it–this scarily parallels how Donald Trump downplayed coronavirus until hundreds of Americans had been infected and thousands had died worldwide. As Shane’s aunt said, she didn’t want to forget how important it is “for human beings to be there for one another.” That, in essence, is what this documentary is all about.


    I definitely agree with Kayley’s viewpoint in 5B. Though the disease was destructive in the sense that it destroyed families and created harsh stigmas towards the homosexual community, it was lightening to see the disease bring out the best in providers. Providers began to care for their patients when their families had abandoned them. This to me, shows the powerful role of the provider who not only cares for the patient but has the capacity to take the transformative role of the parents, friends, siblings, etc. I also saw many similarities that Kayley has with the COVID-19 virus and presidential responses towards it. I have also seen similarities in how providers have also become family to those with COVID-19 given that family members are not allowed to visit given the contagious nature of the disease.

    Julia DiNicola

    Kayley makes an excellent point that the heart of the documentary’s message is simply being there for someone during such a traumatic experience. The way the nurses and doctors in the film talked about their experiences – one even remarking that she felt “like a mother” to her patients, reflects the unique circumstances that arise when patients are particularly stigmatized and vulnerable. In the case of HIV/AIDS, many of the patient’s families were not there to comfort them because they could not accept them for who they are. This is when the nurses stepped in and provided the much needed sense of comfort, acceptance, and care in their final moments. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the summer I spent as a nurse’s aide in an Alzheimer’s/dementia care home. Many of the patient’s families stopped visiting because of their mental decline, which while understandably difficult, broke my heart because I knew them and appreciated them for the people they were now. I believe it is in special circumstances like these when hospital workers and nursing home caretakers really step up to provide even more than just medicine – but overall care. I really enjoyed the documentary for its ability to show this side of the health care field.

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