About the Film
When prayer is not enough, people turn to Lady Madonna.
Lady Madonna is a documentary feature chronicling the humanitarian works of a small Nigerian hospital with a mission to serve anyone who comes through the doors. We follow Dr. Ogbono, the lead doctor at Madonna Hospital as he tries his best to serve the community of Umuahia. Limited by the resources of this Catholic mission hospital, he works to compete with the local government hospital in quality of patient care without the patient’s ability to pay up front.
When a group of American doctors visit the hospital, a wave of new patients arrive seeking care. This is a boon to the hospital’s reputation, but brings with it old stereotypes and the remnants of centuries of colonialism. The local population looks to Madonna Hospital because they are associated with Western NGO’s, but the legacy of the “White Man” makes it difficult for the hospital to stand on its own.
Perception can be reality, and in a country where few can afford insurance, the prospect of medical care is a luxury for those with cash. Many go their entire lives without setting foot in a doctor's office. Madonna Hospital is struggling against all odds to tip the balance in the other direction. Through the dedicated service of the doctors and nurses, a community is coming together to save lives every day.
the human experience
Stories that Matter
The stories we tell can change the world
Healthcare is one of the great moral issues of our time. We have the scientific knowledge and technology to treat a wide array of medical conditions, yet many of the most common and readily treated illnesses go undiagnosed simply because of a lack of access to medical treatment. We see this every day in the United States when people come into an Emergency Room with chronic illnesses that could have been treated with preventive care.
We have all seen (and been made to feel mildly distrustful of) what “Socialized Medicine” looks like, but it’s rare to see what “Capitalized Medicine” truly is in practice. With a cash up front payment model, Nigeria’s “Fee-for-Service” system is as purely capitalistic as it gets. While it is true that the United States also has a fee-for-service payment model for doctors, we have a highly modified form from the Nigerian model that includes provisions for, among other things, mandatory treatment at emergency facilities.
When someone comes into an Emergency Room in need of an amputation related to diabetes and can’t pay their bill, that procedure costs the hospital tens of thousands of dollars. That cost is then passed on to anyone that has health insurance. If, however, we can catch that diabetes early and treat it effectively, not only do we save those costs, but we save someone’s leg. If we treat high blood pressure and hypertension early, we can prevent catastrophic heart attacks and strokes while improving the quality of life of those individuals. These are not expensive things to treat if caught in time. As the son of two healthcare professionals, the solution seems obvious. Get people access to preventative care.
Unfortunately, the payment model for much of America is based not on the health care outcomes, but rather on the number of procedures done or tests run. Like the Nigerian system, American doctors are paid under a fee-for-service structure that rewards tests and operations. Unlike the Nigerian system, Americans believe in a social safety net. We have emergency rooms where anyone can go for treatment. We believe that our seniors should be automatically covered at the end of their lives when they need care most. With politicians continuing to argue over the Affordable Care Act, unless we in the States want to dismantle our Emergency Room system or cut Grams and Gramps off of Medicare to become more like the Nigerian system where people really are on their own, we need to have more and better access to care for all in order to prevent eventual medical outcomes that are more severe and more costly to treat later in life.
As the debate continues over how best to utilize the medical resources of our country, I want people to see the full range and realities of the spectrum. I want them to see how the policy choices of their government can drastically alter the lives of ordinary people. Most importantly, I want them to see that the modest efforts of non-governmental organizations are making significant differences at the local level and that these programs could be easily scaled to larger models if we decided as a society that they were worth our while. I am constantly inspired by the efforts of these volunteers and their commitment to making this world a better place.
Producer/Director - Chris Cloyd