‘NY Med,’ a new documentary series on ABC, was given unusual access to the day-to-day events at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
It’s mid-April 2011, and producer Terence Wrong and his team are ensconced in an office on the 12th floor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
Camera operators dressed in green hospital scrubs get their gear and head out for various corners of the hospital, where they will spend hours looking over the shoulders of doctors, nurses and patients to get the raw material for what will become ABC News’ “NY Med,” an eight-part series set to launch Tuesday at 10 p.m.
“It’s like fishing,” says Wrong. “You have to have your line in the water.”
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Wrong has been fishing here before. He has been filming documentaries for two decades on subjects from the Vietnam War to lowland gorillas to Charles Lindbergh to online dating.
But at this point he’s probably best known as the hospital guy.
His first medical series, “Hopkins,” was filmed at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and aired in 2000. He returned to Hopkins for a second series that aired in 2008, then two years later filmed “Boston Med,” at Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women’s, and Children’s Hospital in Boston.
“I’ve probably spent about 10,000 hours in hospitals,” he estimates, and the reason is pretty simple: “I like human drama — and at a hospital, it’s literally life or death.”
“NY Med” series, he says, is where he hoped all his work would eventually lead. But, he explains, he could only get here one step at a time.
“It’s all about street cred,” he says. “Hospitals are very reluctant about a project like this, for many reasons. They’re concerned about intrusiveness, about confidentiality, about liability. You can’t just walk in with a camera and start shooting.
“The reason I was finally able to do this is because of ‘Hopkins’ and ‘Boston Med.’ The people at Presbyterian saw how we work, how we are nonintrusive, how we respect what they are doing.
“The hospital world is a small community. Everyone talks to each other. If word had gotten out that we created a bad experience before, Presbyterian never would have let us in. But after they saw what we did, we were able to start talking.”
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In his fortress-like office, midway through the filming, Wrong is a little worried that he’s not getting enough video of dramatic trauma cases in the emergency department.
To make the series work, he figures, he’ll need enough major surgery or story arcs to anchor each episode. Once he has those, he will fill in with human interest and secondary plots, often following a nurse or a resident and picking up a lighter story that will provide some relief from the brain tumor or HIV or cancer drama of the main story.
New York Daily News