Hollywood’s medical TV shows finally have some real value

From pretending to save lives to actually doing it.
From pretending to save lives to actually doing it.
Image: ABC
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For perhaps the first time ever, all those fake hospitals on TV medical dramas may actually save lives instead of pretending to.

Several American medical television series are donating prop supplies to US hospitals and health organizations to help in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers around the country are quickly running out of face masks and other essential protective gear. In some cases, doctors and nurses are reusing masks for days at a time and building makeshift masks out of office supplies and other unrelated medical devices.

While the doctors you watch on TV might not be real, a lot of the personal protective equipment, or PPE, they wear is, including their masks, gloves, lab coats, gowns, scrubs, and shoe and hair covers. And since virtually all film and TV production in the US is temporarily shut down, there are all kinds of hospital-quality supplies sitting in storage that can provide relief to facilities overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

The Good Doctor, Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, New Amsterdam, The Resident, and the “Chicago” shows (Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D.) are among the TV series donating their surplus medical supplies to US hospitals.

New Amsterdam, which was inspired by Bellevue Hospital in New York City, donated “half a truck load of PPE” to its real-life counterpart, Deadline reported. Station 19 donated 300 N95 masks to a local California fire station. The Resident, which films in Atlanta, Georgia, donated supplies to the city’s Grady Hospital:

Other shows outside the medical genre are chipping in too. The FX drama Pose donated all of its prop supplies to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The show’s upcoming third season takes place in part at a hospital, where one character is an HIV/AIDS counselor.

And despite existential crises of their own, Hollywood craftspeople are doing what they can to ease the burden on hospitals. As many as 120,000 film industry workers have already lost their jobs due to the production stoppages. Still, members of at least three Hollywood trade unions, including costume designers, are sewing masks to donate to healthcare facilities. Production companies are also soliciting volunteers to assemble masks.

Real doctors have argued that American medical shows can be so reductive in their depictions of hospitals and the profession that they do actual harm. But for one moment, at least, they’re living up to the lofty ideals of the fake doctors who work in those halls.