Arantxa Cedillo, "Emergency Room", 2004, C-print

Arantxa Cedillo, “Emergency Room”, 2004, C-print

Arantxa Cedillo

New York’s health-care system is widely recognized as one of the best and most expensive in the nation. Although the privatization of healthcare is on the rise in the United States, there is still at least one place where insured and uninsured people alike can receive equal medical attention. There is one hospital that is the local medical facility for both New York’s homeless as well as the President of the United States.

Bellevue Hospital was founded in 1736 and has since been credited as one of the most important hospitals in the country. Employing perhaps the best emergency care in the world, it offers the American public a healthcare service that is second to none. People of all nationalities, as well as prisoners, homeless people, and law enforcement officials are treated equally and with the same dignity and professionalism inside the emergency room at Bellevue.

I started this project in April 2005 after finding that public insurance services, both Medicaid and Medicare, were not obtainable for the whole of the population. Specifically, New York State’s health-care-cost explosion had left many individuals and small businesses unable to afford insurance. 

Why is the price of U.S. health care so high? One of the main answers could be that America’s health care system has an economically disadvantageous relationship with the privatized pharmaceutical industry. Another answer may be found by investigating the cost of healthcare administration.

Canada’s health care system is the subject of much political controversy and debate in that country. Some question the efficiencies of the current system to deliver treatments in a timely fashion, and advocate adopting a private system similar to the United States. On the other hand, there are worries that privatization would lead to inequalities in the health system with only the wealthy being able to afford certain treatments.

My work at Bellevue marks the beginning of a new photo documentary project that will offer a comparison of both the American and Canadian public healthcare systems. 

Born in Madrid in 1977, Arantxa Cedillo is an independent documentary photographer whose work over the last few years has focused primarily on social issues. After completing a BA in Education and a MA in Peace and Development Studies in Spain, she discovered photography as a useful means of communication between cultures and a tool to promote social change. She is a graduate of the International Center of Photography’s Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program. Most recently Cedillo received the Ian Parry Scholarship for her work documenting the emergency room at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.