PBS will air a new film by Ken Burns, THE MAYO CLINIC: FAITH – HOPE – SCIENCE, on September 25, 2019 at 9 p.m. ET and again on the 26th at 10 p.m. in the United States. The two-hour documentary tells the story of how a doctor and his sons came together with a group of Catholic nuns more than a century ago to envision a completely new way of providing care to patients, and how that vision continues to raise important questions about how patients are cared for in today’s modern medical system.
The two-Hour Film, features the voices of Tom Hanks, Sam Waterston, Blythe Danner, and Josh Lucas, and interviews with patients including John McCain and the Dalai Lama. The filmexplores Clinic’s 150-year history and tells the story of William Worrall Mayo, an English immigrant who travelledthroughout the Midwest looking for a place to practice, and settled with his family in Rochester Minnesota and practiced medicine there with his sons Will and Charlie.
Together with the Sisters of Saint Francis and his sons Will and Charlie, he laid the foundation for a medical center that now treats over a million patients every year from 50 states and 150 countries and employs 64,000 people in Rochester and at campuses in Jacksonville, Florida and Scottsdale, Arizona.
When a deadly tornado tore through their small community in 1883, the Mayos took charge of recovery efforts, enlisting the help of the nearby Sisters of Saint Francis to care for patients. Afterwards, Mother Alfred Moes, the leader of the convent, told Dr. Mayo she had a vision from God that instructed her to build a hospital, with him as its director. She believed it would become “world renowned for its medical arts.”
Blending historical narrative with contemporary patient stories, THE MAYO CLINIC: FAITH – HOPE – SCIENCE is a look at how one institution has met the changing demands of healthcare for 150 years—and what that can teach us about facing the challenges of patient care today.
“When the Mayo Clinic began in the late 19th Century, the medical community was so amazed at its success, they dubbed it ‘The Miracle in the Cornfield,’” said co-director Erik Ewers. “But as unique as Mayo may be, it’s not a miracle. It’s about incredibly determined and compassionate men and women who came together to figure out how to create a model of care that puts patients before profits.”
The film also follows the stories of patients who have come to the Clinic looking for answers…and hope. They include:
- Charlene Kelly, a patient in Jacksonville, who receives not only confirmation of her diagnosis of myositis but learns that her symptoms are also due to leukemia. In spite of the daunting news, she finds comfort in finally getting a complete diagnosis and finding out about possible treatments;
- Abigail Feenstra, a toddler from Utah who is treated in Scottsdale for a brain tumor using a state-of-the-art proton beam that avoids damaging healthy tissue;
- Karl Schenk, a patient from South Dakota with advanced pancreatic cancer, whom doctors treat with a unique combination of surgery and chemotherapy that challenges conventional assumptions about the possibility of long-term remission;
- Roger Frisch, a concert violinist, whose career is threatened by an uncontrollable tremor until a Mayo doctor in Rochester cures it by using experimental deep-brain stimulation.
Through the story of The Mayo Clinic, the film demonstrates the power of collaboration in medicine, the role of humanity in science, and the importance of hope in healing. In doing so, it provides insight into ways to make America’s healthcare delivery system more effective, efficient and compassionate.