THOMASVILLE — The Archbold Medical Center is hosting a screening of “2020 Year of the Nurse," on Friday, a documentary delves into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurses throughout the United States.
Robyn Roots, the writer, executive producer and director of the documentary, has more than 30 years of experience in the field of nursing and this documentary is not her first toe in the water of the film industry.
“I’m a nurse by day and a film producer by night,” she said.
With six years of experience in the film industry, from producing to writing, Roots has been involved in projects such as “The Turnaround,” “Aloha,” “The Haunting of Potters Field” and “The Season.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to take root, Roots, who has been in nursing for more than 30 years, was at the frontline as medical practitioners in all fields began to deal with the chaos the lack of information and uncertainty caused.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my career where the interdisciplinary team, the doctors, the nurses, social workers, (was) kind of scurrying around in the chaos," she said. "You really didn’t know what to do because we weren’t getting a lot of information from the CDC.”
As it was a difficult time for Roots and her peers, she said she sought comfort from the pandemic's pressures in the chapel.
“I’m a very spiritual person,” she said, “God was telling me to do something.”
Considered a mentor among other nurses, Roots said that she was one of the first they came to with their own issues, and she often lent them an ear.
“As the nurses kept coming to me, I gave them all a platform to really get their emotions out, tell me what their fears was, try to help them with strategies because some of them didn’t want to come home to their kids, their husband, mothers, people they were taking care of that were older,” Roots said, “They were scared they were going to be transmitting because it was still not clear information for how it was transmitted.”
Roots said she made the decision to record the conversations and the stories of the nurses she spoke to because, among the chaos of the pandemic, she didn’t know who was going to survive the ordeal.
“It was something that had to be done,” Roots said.
Roots worked with a distanced team of professional for the documentary's filming and production, noting that her skills as a nurse played a key role at times in the organization and production.
For the documentary, she spoke to nurses all over the country and gathered 90 hours of material that was edited down into to the final hour-and-20-minute-long version.
“COVID has affected almost everybody,” Roots said, “When you’re on the frontline, you gotta be strong,”
Roots works as a certified dialysis nurse and nursing professional development practitioner at Richmond VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virgina. She said that her experience with “2020 Year of the Nurse” has cemented film as her next focus in life.
“It really solidified that film is my next journey,” Roots said, “I’m looking forward to that.”
The screening of the documentary will be on May 20 at 6 p.m. at the SRTC Auditorium Building B and a discussion with Roots in attendance will follow the viewing. The screening is a pop up event of the Covey Film Festival and is sponsored by Archbold Medical Center.
“2020 Year of the Nurse” was produced in celebration of Nurse’s Appreciation Week and was originally premiered in August 2021 at the BronzeLens Festival in Atlanta and won Best Documentary. The award winning documentary has been given the Award of Recognition at The impact DOCS Award and nominated as Best Documentary at the Orlando Film Festival, among other honors.
Payton Fletcher can be reached at 229-226-2400, ext. 1826