Staff members of the Akron Children’s Hospital Lewis C. Walker Cystic Fibrosis Center headed to a local movie theater Sunday night to see the new film, “Five Feet Apart.” The team wanted to see this film about 2 love-struck teenagers with cystic fibrosis (CF) and how they navigate the infection precaution guidelines in place for CF patients, which includes staying at least 6 feet away from anyone else who has CF.
The precaution rule has created an ironic situation for CF patients: If they go see the movie about their condition in the theater, they risk coming into contact with another CF patient. Nurse Practitioner Betsy Bryson explains the precautions and recommendations for CF patients in this Cystic Fibrosis Foundation blog post.
What they think
The majority of our staff gave the movie a thumbs-up rating, hoping the movie will help increase awareness for our patients who have what may seem to some an invisible disease.
“I felt the movie really will help bring awareness to the community about CF, how much time is spent doing every day medications and treatments, and the isolation that people with CF may feel,” said Bryson. “It also reminds us health care providers that CF and all the treatments can be overwhelming to people with CF and their families.”
Nurse Practitioner Christine Singh liked how her counterpart in the movie, Barb played by Kimberly Hebert Gregory, portrayed what it is like to be a CF nurse.
“I liked Barb, the inpatient nurse character,” said Singh. “She was looking out for them but had to be strict at times. Many of us who take care of CF patients could probably relate to her.”
When the crowd includes a pediatric pulmonologist, it is a given that medical accuracy in the film will be under scrutiny. How did “Five Feet Apart” do in the medical accuracy category?
Pediatric Pulmonologist Dr. Greg Omlor, director of the Lewis H. Walker CF Center, describes it as “perfectly inaccurate.”
Susan Kelly, the pulmonary function lab coordinator, took issue with where (or more often, where the fictional patients didn’t) wear their masks. She even questioned the quality of their masks, which are a brand that is not endorsed by the CF Foundation.
Bryson said she noticed the way the fictional hospital staff shared personal health information with other patients, which is not something we would do at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“As with other medical shows and movies, there are inaccuracies,” said Bryson. “Certainly, we would not tell one patient about another patient and what organisms they have in their respiratory cultures. That is why we follow HIPAA.”
Clinical Research Coordinator Michelle Powers was glad the movie showcased some of the difficult realities people with CF face every day.
“When Stella coughed up a large amount of mucus, that is very accurate,” said Powers. “I am glad they showed some difficult realities. The infection control that was utilized during the hospital stay was not accurate. Unfortunately, 2 people with CF cannot go get an ice cream together.”
And the real question parents of kids with CF are wondering: Do our experts recommend letting CF patients watch the movie (at home, of course – they do not recommend CF patients see the movie in the theater)? The movie has a PG13 rating.
“I think it is a good movie for patients of the right age to see and their families with discussion following the movie,” said Bryson. “If there are questions about the accuracy of the film, it would be important for people with CF and their families to ask their CF team or to look at the resources on cff.org.”
Singh says it might also be helpful to watch it before your child does.
“If I were a parent of a teen with CF, I would watch it first so I was ready to answer questions about some of the difficult scenes, especially the ending,” she said.
Dr. Omlor recommends that CF patients see it. “It will help them feel as if they are not alone.”