Quentin Young documentary nabs funding in 11th hour

Staff Writer

It came down to the wire, but the funding for a documentary on a prominent Hyde Park physician came through.

The Kickstarter to fund “The Good Dr. Young,” a documentary on Quentin Young, a decades-long Hyde Parker and vocal advocate for single-payer health care, came through in its final hours on Monday.

Filmmaker Al Nowakowski said he was glued to the computer screen Monday morning watching the donations trickle in.

With six hours to go, the donations exceeded their goal. When the Kickstarter ended at 4 p.m. the filmmakers were $1,520 above their $30,000 goal.

Young, a life-long Hyde Parker, made his career as a physician and a vocal advocate for health reform. He had been advocating for a universal single-payer health care system for decades before Barack Obama’s presidency.

Young said he has never been a big fan of accolades but “what’s really important is that it describes the struggle for universal health care in the city and in the nation, so I’m eager to cooperate in anything that tells that story.”

Young just turned 90-years-old and will be honored by the Physicians for a National Health Program for his work later this year. The funding will help the filmmakers travel to Boston, Mass., with him to film the celebration. Young helped to co-found the group.

“It’s clear that the American public endorses the principal of national health insurance and a few short years back you couldn’t even raise the topic,” Young said. “In all my 90 years – I’ve been a doctor [in Hyde Park] for 50 or 60 of those years – and I’d like, before I go to my maker, I’d like to see national health insurance and I think it’ll happen, but we have to work very hard.”

Young said he believes that the United States will eventually move towards a single-payer health care system, in line with many European nations.

He also worked as the personal physician for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other national figures, and writers including Studs Terkel and Mike Royko.

Young said while he was King’s physician the civil rights leader never needed any major medical attention, though Young would find ways to turn a 15 minute house call into a two- or three-hour conversation.

“I can tell you one interesting point,” Young said. “King was not the mindless hero that some people think of him. He knew he was vulnerable and that he had enemies who would kill him, and indeed did kill him. I had plenty of experiences that are worthy of mention but none exceeds getting to know him.”

Kickstarter allows a project to be funded by small donations from a large community of people. In the case of the documentary, 235 people each donated between $1 and $5,000 to help fund the project.

The biggest donor, who Nowakowski declined to name, will receive rewards including a DVD copy of the film, memoirs signed by Dr. Young, tickets to the film’s premiere and he or she will get to go bowling with the crew and star.

Funding for the film will be used primarily to secure the use for copyrighted photos and video footage of Young throughout his career.

Nowakowski said they hope to release the film next summer.