‘NY Med’ skillfully pulls back the curtain on life and death at New York …

 The coverage team for ABC’s ‘NY Med,’ a revealing,eight-part look at New York Presbyterian Hospital

Donna Svennevik/ABC

The coverage team for ABC’s ‘NY Med,’ a revealing,eight-part look at New York Presbyterian Hospital

‘NY Med’ combines the street cred of a documentary with the fun of a reality show.

This eight-part exploration of New York Presbyterian Hospital feels like a documentary in the sense that it takes a serious approach to the ultimate serious subject: life and death.

Toward that end, “NY Med” never gives the slightest whiff of manipulation. In contrast to most reality shows, nothing feels like it’s being initiated or massaged for the cameras.

When a doctor explains why a patient needs to be awake and conscious during brain surgery, it’s not because someone thought the patient’s reaction would make for good television.

Yet at the same time, executive producer Terence Wrong doesn’t approach his subject as if he’s preparing a PowerPoint presentation for a medical convention.

He spends enough time with both the medical professionals and the patients to humanize them, and in the end this humanizes the process.

Patients, nurses and doctors all are portrayed as the sum of their small concerns as well as their large ones.

When Wrong follows a case with Dr. Mehmet Oz, for instance, he focuses on the fact that this patient had come to see Oz years earlier, before Oz became a major TV celebrity.

While this might have created a barrier for some patients — “He’s too important for me now” — in this case it doesn’t.

That may seem like a small point, but it flatters both Oz and the hospital, because it subtly suggests the medical system isn’t as impersonal and forbidding as it is sometimes considered.

Wrong’s affection for hospitals shone through in his earlier work, including two series on Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and one on several hospitals in Boston.

Here again at Presbyterian, he not only portrays an institution that carries out a critical function, but a living organism filled with people who, when the workday ends, blend right in with the people they serve.

Each episode features a central case, like that “wide awake” brain surgery or a 4-year-old girl with a tumor embedded in her heart.

Given the severity of the problems here, not every patient lives happily ever after. But “NY Med” accentuates the positive, and Wrong helps keep the mood upbeat by finding, for instance, a surgeon with a fondness for opera.

Few viewers won’t be captivated by Marina Dedivanovic, a nurse from the Bronx who has deep professional compassion and also continuing issues with boyfriends and exes.

She’s one of several subjects, along with other nurses, younger residents and other hospital personnel, who talk about their lives and work during the interludes among the consultations, the actual procedures and the critical post-op discussions.

Like Wrong’s earlier work, “NY Med” makes hospitals and operations a little less scary, and that alone would recommend it.

It’s a nice bonus that it’s also good television.




New York Daily News


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