Maine Med videographer wins regional Emmy Award for COVID film
A MaineHealth videographer won an Emmy Award for his film that captures the anxiety and fatigue of Maine Medical Center nurses treating unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in the Portland Hospital’s intensive care unit in the summer last.
During the 2 minute and 20 second video, Charlie Berg interviews nurses as they start their day in the hospital’s COVID unit. The video was filmed on a day in late August 2021 at a time when the state was experiencing an increase in COVID cases involving the highly contagious delta variant.
It has been viewed over 750,000 times since the video was posted on September 2, 2021 on the MaineHealth YouTube channel and social media sites.
The video was posted in hopes it would encourage more people to get vaccinated against the virus as hospitals in Maine and across the country were overwhelmed with extremely sick, unvaccinated patients. Clips of Berg’s video have appeared on “The Today Show” and “ABC World News,” said Berg, who lives in Saco. Berg said on the day of his intensive care visit, not all patients treated in the unit were vaccinated.
Berg and the four critical care nurses he interviewed in August traveled to Boston on June 4 to attend the 45th Emmy Awards, held at the Wang Theater. Berg, 45, won a regional Emmy in the health and medicine category.
Nurses cry, say patients tell them they regret not being vaccinated, talk about putting patients in body bags, and in one segment a South Portland man laments not being vaccinated while urging others to get vaccinated.
“I was a little skeptical about things. There’s so much information you don’t know what to believe,” the South Portland COVID patient told Berg. catching this disease. It’s the worst feeling you can have.”
Intensive care nurses told Berg that COVID patients share stories of how they didn’t believe COVID was real or that someone their age was somehow immune to the virus. In August 2021, intensive care nurses told Berg they were treating a number of COVID patients in their 40s and 50s, many of whom were healthy before becoming infected.
“We come to work every day. And we know it’s going to be a tough day. Every day is going to be a tough day,” Kimberly Matheson, a registered nurse, told Berg. “I’m just anxious about what the day is going to bring. What’s going to happen. Who will die.
“We are all tired. We are all trying to take care of each other,” said Britney Meunier, a registered nurse, as her voice cracked and tears began to form. “We just want people to know that we’re always here and always ready to help. But we also need your help.
Berg said he went to intensive care in August hoping to do a story on an unvaccinated COVID patient, but his focus shifted after Matheson and other nurses approached him to expand the scope of his videography.
“The truth is, I showed up one day with a camera and nurses and frontline care teams have been doing this for two years, putting their lives on the line,” Berg said. “It was important to them that people see the unnecessary pain and suffering that patients, families and healthcare teams went through when effective vaccines were available. It was important to me that the story be told.
The four nurses featured in Berg’s video — RN Chani Marcoux, nurse practitioners Danielle Poulin, Matheson, and Meunier — were introduced by Berg onstage at the Emmy awards ceremony on June 4. The audience gave the nurses a standing ovation.
“For us, this award is for the patients we lost, those who died without their families with us alone there. They are always on our minds,” Marcoux said.
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