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Cross Aid Post| 1hr : 26mins
Director: Maria Mok and Meral Uslu | Producer: Maria Mok and Meral Uslu
Focus Years: 2007 | Country: Netherlands
Subject Tags: europe, global, health, human rights, inter-cultural relations, migration, netherlands, poverty
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
Cross Aid Post is a documentary about a clinic in Amsterdam’s red light district, where doctors voluntarily provide medical care for people without health insurance, mostly illegal immigrants and homeless people. Everybody staying in The Netherlands is entitled to medical help. By law it is now impossible for people who have no legal status to get health insurance. A new law (the Koppelingswet or Matching Act) made it impossible. There is a way to finance help for uninsured people: a fund was founded to finance help to illegal immigrants. But many doctors dread the paperwork involved and illegals are considered difficult patients. They often suffer from psychological problems and language problems lead to long consultations. As a result many illegal patients are refused, although they are entitled to medical assistance. The Cross Aid Post is in the Netherlands the only facility where the uncovered can come for medical care and are never turned down. The volunteering doctors mainly help illegal people, but also the homeless and drug addicts frequent the place. The medical aid post is situated in the heart of the red light district in a basement. Via a staircase one arrives in semi underground offices. In a maze of narrow corridors one finds a waiting room, two consulting rooms, a safe where medical supplies are stored and a kitchen where the doctors drink coffee and catch up from their sometimes exhausting work. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the fifties. The volunteer group consists of retired general practitioners and surgeons on the one hand and young doctors in training who gain experience on the other hand. There are also some doctors who work for Doctors Without Borders who are on leave. All medical personnel always wear white clothing “to give it a bit of cachet” according to one of them. The team of doctors, receptionists and social workers totals 80 volunteers. The Cross Aid Post is run by Hannie van der Wensch, or Dr. Van der Wensch, as she likes to be called. She is a matronly figure, her hair in a tight knot, who wears every day a different colorful outfit and she rules in a severe style. She deals with the schedules of the doctors, receptionists and social workers, sees to it that patients contribute € 5,- per consultation and intervenes when patients turn aggressive. Sometimes a doctor asks for her opinion. At such a moment she grabs a white doctors coat and examines a patient. Small operations are also performed. These operations are performed by hook and by crook with tools that are discarded by hospitals. The Cross Aid Post is called “the only Third World place in Holland.” It is estimated that between 100.000 and 200.000 “illegal people” move around in Dutch society. We rarely see them. Who are they, how do they survive and what are the problems they have to deal with. Through these consultations, which are sometimes sad and sometimes very humorous and touching, we meet a wide range of illegal and homeless persons, who are forced to lead underground lives and temporarily surface in the two consulting-rooms of the Cross Aid Post.
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