Sierra College Presents: “5B” Documentary Film

This film is a documentary about the creation of the first AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. At a time when hospitals were turning away persons suffering from AIDS because they didn’t want to be known as “the AIDS hospital,” a cadre of nurses at San Francisco General fought to open one of the first AIDS wards in the country. Ward 5B opened in July of 1983. The focus on touch set this ward apart: health experts knew by then that AIDS was not transmitted casually, but before Ward 5B, employees had to don gowns, gloves and masks before entering the rooms of persons with AIDS. The Ward 5B nurses defied this convention, and decided that even though they couldn’t cure their patients, they could touch them and treat them with human compassion. The story is told through first-person testimony of the nurses and healthcare professionals who envisioned and ran the ward, and the many patients they helped through their innovative approach to patient care—which ultimately became the standard for healthcare professionals throughout the world in the way HIV/AIDS patients received care.

Date, Time, and Location of Showing: Wednesday, November 13, 2019; 6PM; Sierra College Nevada County Campus Multipurpose Center.

Attendees: The public is encouraged to attend; there is no charge for this event (although attendees will need to purchase a one-day parking pass for $3.00).

Other Details: We hope to be able to bring two of the nurses from Ward 5B to speak after the film showing. Failing that, I hope to have a representative from the Sierra Foothill AIDS Foundation speak about their current work on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS, and what they see as the future.