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Alongside National Geographic Documentary Films’ “THE FIRST WAVE,” from Oscar®-Nominated and Emmy®-Winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman, the campaign creates new urgency to caring for those who have cared for us: healthcare workers

Los Angeles, CA (December 7, 2021) — Participant, the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that stands at the intersection of art and activism, today announced The First Wave impact campaign. THE FIRST WAVE, a new film by Oscar®-Nominated and Emmy®-Winning Director Matthew Heineman, served as DOC NYC’s closing night film held at the iconic Beacon Theatre, and is now available to stream on Hulu.

Alongside our partners National Geographic Documentary Films and Neon, Participant is partnering with national healthcare and pandemic response organizations #FirstRespondersFirst, the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, the Pandemic Action Network and the American Medical Students Association—on the First Wave impact campaign. The effort will build momentum for programs and policies that support the mental health and wellbeing of our healthcare workers, who find themselves exhausted, stressed out and, in some cases, traumatized as a result of the pandemic.

“THE FIRST WAVE is about many things to me but, at its core, it’s about how human beings come together in the face of crisis,” said director Matthew Heineman. “I hope the film serves as an homage to the brave healthcare workers who have risked their lives on the frontlines of this ongoing pandemic. Now, almost two years into the crisis, they deserve our gratitude and support more than ever.”

More than clapping in support, the campaign meets this critical moment with the attention, effort, and investment needed to change healthcare for the better. By caring for those who care for us, we can help build a more resilient and equitable health system for all. Indeed, a majority of frontline healthcare workers (62%) say worry or stress related to COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health, and younger frontline healthcare workers seem to be hit the hardest, with a vast majority (75%) reporting that worry or stress related to COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. And as the pandemic evolves and new variants emerge, it is more urgent than ever that healthcare workers receive the care they need, so that all of us can be as safe and healthy as possible.

“Matthew’s extraordinary film is a stirring reminder that our healthcare workers deserve a resilient and equitable system that cares for them as much as they have cared for us,” said David Linde, CEO of Participant. “As producers, we are so proud to partner with National Geographic, Neon, and the filmmakers to support the critical needs of the healthcare workforce.”

With exclusive access inside one of New York’s hardest hit hospital systems during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, THE FIRST WAVE spotlights the healthcare workers at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered. A chilling, necessary portrait of those on the front lines, the film is also further evidence of a healthcare workforce that is burnt out, stretched thin, and undersupported.

The First Wave impact campaign invites audiences to:

  • Get involved: An action hub (participant.com/thefirstwave) that encourages audiences to learn more about the challenges our healthcare workers are facing; show gratitude by leaving an audio message of thanks for healthcare workers, and; make a donation to the #FirstRespondersFirst Fund, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation that has raised over $10 million to support healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Create conversation. A digital tool that allows users to:
    • Directly contact state legislators and boards of medicine, calling on them to remove barriers that prevent clinicians from seeking mental health support.
    • Send a note to your representatives as they consider timely and important mental health protections and support for healthcare professionals in the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act

The First Wave impact campaign will partner with organizations at the forefront of this work, including:

  • Partner with #FirstRespondersFirst to drive donations to the #FirstRespondersFirst fund — including a donation from Participant — that supports healthcare workers, including providing basic needs, caring for their mental health and transforming the systems in which they work.
  • Partner with the American Medical Student Association to engage their chapters nationwide through screenings and conversations on topics including healthcare worker mental health and health equity, as a way to train and prepare future generations of healthcare workers to be the stewards of a resilient and equitable future.
  • Partner with the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, which aims to improve mental and behavioral health among health care providers and health care workers
  • Partner with the Pandemic Action Network, highlighting their new survey of U.S. doctors and nurses on the challenges that continue to burden them well over a year into the pandemic, and what is required to be better prepared for this crisis and future pandemic threats.
  • Partner with ROCO Films to distribute THE FIRST WAVE to hundreds of medical schools, hospital networks and universities nationwide for screenings and integration of the film into library systems.

The campaign will develop:

  • Short-form content:
    • Develop short-form digital content through our “Pass the Mic” series elevating the voices of healthcare workers and educating audiences on the mental health challenges they face.
    • A Gratitude Hotline (1-800-250-5745) for healthcare workers to call in to listen to messages of thanks from audiences all around the country, and can leave their own message as well.

THE FIRST WAVE is now available to screen on Hulu.

If you would like to screen THE FIRST WAVE or incorporate the film in your library system, please contact ROCO Films directly.