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Healthcare providers get a view from patients' perspective

Healthcare providers get a view from patients' perspective

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reportingToday a prestigious medical journal presents doctors with a stark look at the view from the other side: patients with cameras.

A researcher at Yale gave disabled patients video cameras. It's first-person perspective from a wheelchair.

What's it like living life from a wheelchair? We see it from Ernie Wallengren's perspective as he fixes a breakfast drink. We see that refrigerators aren't designed for wheelchairs.

Wallengren has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Simple daily activities -- having to get out of bed, to go to the bathroom -- can take a monumental effort.

"After going through the whole thing, I turned over to Cheryl and said, "I don't know how much more of this I can take,'" he said.

Galen Buckwalter took his camera to a doctor's appointment. He's used a manual wheelchair for 30 years because of a spinal injury. His doctor arrived 40 minutes late. Sadly, there's no discussion of the patient's main concern: the need to transition to an electric wheelchair.

Buckwalter said, "He wanted to make a diagnosis. He wanted to move on. He wanted to meet his five minute time limit, but I needed somebody to sit down and look me in the eye and start talking about the need for changes to occur."

Then there's Vicki Elman, with multiple sclerosis. First as a patient at a nursing home, she wants to get up out of bed to use the toilet. But her aide says it's too much work and tells her to just "go" in her diaper.

In a separate situation, a bus driver drops Vicki off in a malfunctioning wheelchair, 10 feet from her front door.

"He said he didn't have enough time to push me inside the house," she said.

She tried to call 911 but had no signal on her cell phone. No one came by to help, and day turned to night.

What began as a research project has now turned into a film called "Rolling." The lead investigator hopes it will open eyes.

"At some point in our lives, everybody is going to be vulnerable," said Dr. Gretchen Berland, a Yale University researcher. "When you're at that moment in your life, you're really hoping that the person you are talking to and asking for assistance is caring, and looking at you as a human being."

The documentary will air on KUED early next year. For members of our health care system, it's an important reminder there's a person behind every diagnosis, and they need to do their best to listen.

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