The ACA passed and is already in trouble. The Republicans are up in arms, calling the ACA an overreach of a totalitarian governmental regime. The Democrats are defending it, promoting its cost-saving measures as a progressive step forward for America.
To say the rhetoric has heated would be an understatement.
I’m not here to debate politics though. In the run up to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the ACA and the recent aftermath, I believe the health care sector has taken a publicity pounding. All the attempts to promote cost-cutting measures, expand coverage, reduce mortality, and improve care, among other issues, have whittled the national debate on health care down to a numbers game. How much money can we save here? How many patients can be treated there?
Flip to any nightly news broadcast and you’ll see plenty of anchors pitching forecasted statistics in favor or against the ACA. Hospital overhead, medical technology costs, or physician salaries, to name a few topics, are thrown around in heated debates. When all of this is televised on national TV, it serves a dual purpose of informing the public and, unfortunately, dehumanizing medicine.
When all people hear about health care are statistics and costs, what are they most likely to associate with the field? Medicine sounds more like a cutthroat business that reflects poorly on all medical professionals. As the majority of medical professionals will tell you, money is not why they entered the field.
At this crossroads of public opinion, health care reform, and political strife comes health care’s much-needed publicity savior – Terence Wrong and his new show on ABC called “NY Med.”
NY Med is a reality show that follows medical professionals in New York hospitals, filming their lives in and outside of the hospital. Much like Wrong’s former projects of “Boston Med” and “Hopkins”, Wrong isn’t documenting with a hidden agenda. He’s not looking for ways to antagonize hospitals or, on the other extreme, to promote physicians as sage professionals beyond reproach.
He’s simply documenting what is, accompanied by an appropriate soundtrack.
Within the first episode of NY Med we learn the story of a resident once shunned from theater because of her skin color. We see the ever-likable Dr. Mehmet Oz and his charming bedside manner. We cringe when a nurse may have contracted Hepatitis C while caring for a patient and smile when a patient successfully courts his former nurse. Don’t forget the wisecracking and slightly egotistical cardiac surgeon. We see tears, pain, small victories, and triumphs all wrapped in a nicely edited hour segment.
These descriptions may sound like stereotypes and I’m sure some are. The point here, however, is that people can relate to those roles. Hospitals become more than just businesses, physicians more than just professionals with high salaries, and nurses more than just pill pushers. They all become real people trying to do good things.
Medicine is a humanistic calling and NY Med helps to put a human face back on health care. Mr. Wrong has impeccable timing, because that’s exactly what health care’s public image needs right now.