Debunking #FilmYourHospital

By Kylie Turner, Student Voice

When the world woke up to the news that COVID-19 was now classified as a pandemic, social media became even more prevalent in our everyday lives. With the increased use in social media came an influx in hashtags relating to the new novel virus. While the younger generation took to using humor, changing #netflixandchill to #quarantineandchill, the amount of information seen on TikTok, Twitter, or Snapchat relating to COVID-19 were overwhelming. 

Amongst hashtags created to laugh at our miserable expense were those hashtags created to send a message of paranoia, such as, #stayhome and #FilmYourHospital. Like any good hashtag, there are people who take advantage of it. It’s used as a way to gain attention, rather than to spread the truth on what’s actually happening. 

I looked up the hashtag #FilmYourHospital, in hopes to debunk some of the videos that were posted. I found some that when I first looked, my immediate reaction was disbelief, only to go through the steps of trying to prove them wrong and finding out that they were being honest. I found two videos on TikTok of two different hospitals, ironically across the street from one another.

The first hospital video was Overlake Medical in Bellevue, WA. The second was Kaiser Urgent Care also located in Bellevue, WA. I took to Google Maps to see if the location of the video was taken where the TikTok user said it was. They proved true to their word.

The image on the left is a screen clip I took of the hospital that I found on Google Maps and the image on the right is the screenshot I took of the video from TikTok.

The image on the left is the screen clipping I took off of Google Maps and the image on the right is the screenshot I took off TikTok. Both of  the videos were uploaded by the same user on TikTok on the same day, April 2, 2020. In both the videos, looking at directions on Google Maps it seems that the TikTok user was facing north at Overlake Medical Center, and then south at Kaiser Urgent Care. 

Using my best guess I’d say a little before noon because the shadows were in front and then behind them, but weren’t long enough for the time to have been past noon. While this is usually peak hours for visitors, it seems that in the first video at Overlake Medical Center there wasn’t much activity. In the second video, as the user drove past Kaiser Urgent Care, there were only a few cars parked out front, but no people to be seen.

These videos seem to be pushing a theory that there is no emergency at hospitals: that the stories about hospitals from the news are false, and that the virus is not that big of a deal.

Going through the process trying to determine if these videos were giving accurate information proved that these videos themselves were legitimate. While to some it appears that hospitals aren’t as overwhelmed as the media is stating they are, personal experience tells me otherwise. 

Mid April, my mother was experiencing symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. I took her to our local Urgent Care, where the parking lot was nearly empty, with fewer than ten cars. When I walked my mother inside, the waiting room was even more vacant than the parking lot and I only saw two employees. Yet after my mother checked in, as the receptionist went to lead my mother away he turned to me and told me they aren’t allowing guests to wait in their waiting rooms and only letting patients in. I was asked to leave, so I did. 

As fears of COVID-19 spreading continue to develop our health care providers are asking that we don’t visit hospitals for elective services and that we don’t hang around to see our loved ones. Thus leading to the lack of cars in parking lots and empty lobbies that has citizens taking to the #FilmYourHospital tags to spread the “news”.

While the clips I investigated seem to have been legitimate, they don’t prove any conspiracy theory. The only thing proven by empty parking lots is that visitors and elective procedures are no longer allowed. 

About the Author

Kylie Turner is 20 years old and just completed her sophomore year at Webster University. She is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies with an emphasis in advertisement.

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