Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

“Charm City” Movie Review


The upcoming film "Charm City" emphasizes that the struggles of each patient who comes to clinic extend far beyond a medical diagnosis. We must be conscious of our patients' many challenges and mindful to address them. Making time to ask about your patient's day-to-day concerns, worries, and fears about their homes, neighborhoods, and communities can help you to get a fuller perspective of their medical and social determinants of health. This will allow you to reach relevant goals of care together.

“Most of these kids…they’ve been through so much trauma they don’t have anything to look forward to…that’s why I do what I do.” Community leader Clayton, “Mr. C” Gunton, at the Rose Street Community Center, said this about the youth of his neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland.


Charm City” is a documentary directed by Marilyn Ness. Ness spent several years in one of Baltimore City’s most challenged communities. She was able to create and share a story that captured the concerns of every Baltimorean – safety and wellbeing – allowing the narrative to bridge both citizen and law enforcement personnel.


The film, which premieres April 2019, highlights the dire impact of violence on Baltimore residents. Ness captures how the violence is a culmination of institutional racism and exploitations of socioeconomic disadvantages that bleed beyond the crimes themselves.


The film shares several stories of community leaders, police personnel, and local council representatives. These narratives touch on the challenging issues of Baltimore City, but also showcase Baltimore’s best asset: its local citizens. Ness displays the humanity of each of the main characters, a humanity that is centered on a strong desire for Baltimore to rise above the grim statistics that have placed the City in a negative national spotlight. It is clear from the documentary that Baltimore City will see better days due to the positive efforts of each resident. These efforts are on full display in the documentary.


I was fortunate enough to bring several Medicine for the Greater Good personnel and local Baltimore high school students from MERIT to an advance screening of the film. For those of us who have grown up in Baltimore, the theme of the documentary is not new. However, each student left the film feeling positive, feeling as if we are currently in the midst of a revolution for this City. Hopefully, history will prove that this movie served as a catalyst that sparked Baltimore’s renaissance.


For me, the film emphasizes that the struggles of each patient who come to clinic extend far beyond a medical diagnosis. For instance, management of heart disease, diabetes, or asthma may not be a priority for those who are simply trying to survive and cope with the trauma that is around them. Knowing this, we must be conscious of these struggles and mindful to address them no different than we approach other ailments.


Making time with your patient to ask about their day-to-day concerns, worries, and fears about their homes, neighborhoods, and communities can help you get a fuller perspective of the health challenges they face, and then create relevant care goals together.