Health Care Heroes by Tim Tadder
Health care professionals across the USA have been facing the descent of the COVID-19 pandemic with unwavering vigilance and grace. While President Trump has moved on, encouraging millions to follow suit, there are still tens of thousands of heroic frontline health care workers putting it all on the line for others. The selfless sacrifices of these health care professionals are truly admirable and our team was grateful to be at the forefront to capture raw content and powerful perspectives.
We all want to get back some semblance of normality in a life that feels like it’s been under siege for the past couple of months, especially the frontline nurses, doctors, and other medical personnel. They are oftentimes invisible in this long fight. The long hours, emotional, physical, and mental anguish that come with this fight is steep, yet honorable. As we currently see a massive expansion of the virus, we want to give a voice to the healthcare professionals who have dedicated their time to this fight.
This Health Care Heroes project was created when the virus was outwardly under control and on the downside of the pandemic. The fear and anxiety appeared to have been overblown, and virtually diminished. The nation expected this devastating toll and the California healthcare system had definitely been impacted, but not as overly impacted as it is now. This project was also done in the middle of the major protests happening around the country. Our nation was, and still is, being tested by an unprecedented pandemic and unfathomable systemic racism at the core.
Throughout this shoot, our team interviewed the healthcare professionals to get their perspective on the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on their daily lives. There was an interesting division between the medical professionals that aligned with the political differences happening in the country. It was undeniable that the conservatives felt the virus was overblown and that the impact was nominal. However, those with alternative views were very concerned and cautious with regard to their safety.
“A lot of people have started to stop listening, they want the stock market to go back up and everybody wants to feel like this didn’t happen, like it’s all a dream, but it’s real…it's not over yet” –Dr. Patricia Samuels, Chair of Infectious Diseases, Rancho Springs Medical Center
The division for individual safety guidelines proved to be two-sided. Much to our dismay, our team found that some doctors wanted to shake hands and even had their mask off while conversing without social distancing. Others were more adamant and refused to take their mask off, even in the interview. It’s worth noting that these healthcare heroes have put forth selfless acts, even at the risk of their health.
“I have an auto-immune disease and at first my family members and friends were like, ‘You can’t go take care of these patients, you’re at risk’. But no, I love my job. I love being a nurse and I couldn’t imagine stepping down at a time like this where we’re all needed.” –Kristen Foster, Registered Nurse, Rancho Springs Medical Center
The other powerful insight we left with was that there was this high-level emotional toll in terms of caring for COVID-19 patients. Nurses were having to become a dying COVID-19 patients' last contact and it presented some serious emotional concern, a somewhat PTSD on healthcare workers.
“For nurses, it's heavy. It's heavy for a critical patient who isn’t doing well, with family on the phone crying, who’s probably not going to make it. That’s emotionally challenging for the critical care nurses at this time.” –Domi, Registered Nurse at Intensive Care Unit, Rancho Springs Medical Center
What was the approach for the Healthcare Heroes shoot?
Tim Tadder: Not enough people are talking about this impact and we should be talking about it. The emotional toll from this crisis on the healthcare workers will have serious mental impact and I felt that in their voices. I strived to portray a high-level impact within the video content. I took an approach to make it as simple photographically as possible to make the imagery 100% about the subject, and not the technique.
These are raw presentations that make this strictly about the heroes. We set out to have no styling, no lighting, no hair and makeup for the sole purpose of capturing real emotion. I integrated a white seamless fabric as the background and shot them with the available overhead lighting.
What was the most impactful interview?
Tim Tadder: One of the most impactful interviews was with Dr. Samuels, the Head of Infectious Diseases. While I was speaking with her, the audio was really poor since she was wearing an N-95 mask. As she started to take it off, I asked her if she was okay and she said she was uncomfortable taking the mask off. She, of course, put the mask back on and we continued. Even though we were outside, social distancing, and implementing all of the necessary protocols, to this Harvard-educated doctor who has dedicated her whole life to infectious disease, taking off her mask was not an option. This particular conversation proved to be the most poignant and influential.
“I don’t consider myself a hero per se, I think what we do is like what everybody else does, & it just so happens that we’re helping people overcome a pretty scary event in their life” –Dr. Jacobson, Emergency Physician, Rancho Springs Medical Center
During this global crisis, we are truly grateful for the dedication from these healthcare heroes and we are forever indebted to them. As we see the massive expansion of the virus, think of these heroes and listen to their words, and help them by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and implementing necessary safety actions into daily life.
A special thanks to the doctors, nurses, and support staff of Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta, California, for letting me visit you for the day and hear your heroic stories. There is real admiration for your work and it is our hope that we give a voice to your heroic and overlooked actions.
Head to Tim Tadder's website for the full audiovisual experience.