New Amsterdam Episode 5 – Cavitation
A Senseless Death
The department heads are mostly assembled in a room when Dr. Iggy Frome enters. The mood is heavy as each physician recounts reasons that their actions were a failure. It resembles a formal Mortality and Morbidity conference, but is too small for that. Max sporting a shiner, newspaper in hand, takes a seat on the desk at the front. He reads the first line of an article “Yesterday morning at 7:38 am, a bullet ripped through New Amsterdam”.
The ICU has the only decent coffee
Despite his impending deadline to begin treatment, aside from the day off, Max shows no signs of slowing down. We catch up to Dr. Goodwin taking a lap of his beloved hospital and as he passes through the ICU he overhears nurses complaining about survey responses. In a strangled voice, he tells them to rewrite the questions. Ask questions based on that which the patients should focus. He encounters Harold at the coffee station, far away from his station in the Morgue. Harold notes that the ICU has the only decent coffee. As always, Max hears and promises to investigate it. On his way out of the ICU he comments to Dr. Sharpe that he has solved the hospitals most vexing issue. Her response, “that the ICU has the only decent coffee?” Yes, Max, it is a thing. She quickly notices the strained voice and she and Max discuss scheduling a laryngoscopy to see if the “Nutella” has spread. Max, still unwilling to give voice to his cancer diagnosis, insists on calling it “Nutella”. If only coffee were his biggest concern.
On the Record
We meet Louis Navarro, a reporter who has been given full access to shadow Max for a day at the Dam. Navarro has a history of hard-hitting issue-based articles, though his work of late has been of a flashier nature. Lou wants to write a story about Max, but Max is clear. He is not the story; New Amsterdam is the story. It turns out that this is possibly the last day that the Dam needs a reporter in the building. A police-involved shooting, 2 victims, and the Chief of Police and Mayor vying for Max’s attention and policy position. Max, as always, is focused on the care of the patients and not a broader discussion on policy. In fact it is Navarro who catches Max off-guard when he reveals a discussion between Bloom and Richards over a breach of protocol.
A characteristic bulldog journalist, Lou is consistent in trying to “find the story”. Max is equally resolute in decreeing that the hospital is the story. It isn’t politics, optics for the Mayor’s office, the Police Department or public sentiment. The job of New Amsterdam is to heal people, no matter what situation brought them through the doors.
Throughout the episode, we aren’t sure what angle Navarro will take, but the headline “Senseless Death at New Amsterdam” and the first sentence read to us by Max suggest a less than flattering bent for the hospital. Instead, Navarro wrote the truth. The doctors at the Dam each did their jobs, but the bullet did its job better. Sometimes, the good guys don’t get the win.
Breaches of Protocol
The first GSW victim, Malik, needed an emergent procedure to relieve pressure from his heart. Dr. Richards was en route and his attendings were all scrubbed in for surgery. Faced with a 14-year-old dying on her table or trying to save him, Dr. Bloom breaks protocol and proceeds to relieve pressure from the heart. When the blood pours out, it is assumed that she botched the procedure. After a tense discussion with Richards during the handoff, Bloom is resistant to break protocol again.
As part of a complete care team following a trauma, Dr. Frome engages Malik’s aunt regarding his support system for recovery. A door shuts and she jumps, she is uninterested in answering Frome’s question, but wants to know why, with all the love and support Malik has had, did he still end up with a bullet in his chest? For the first time, we see the chinks in the eternal optimism armor that Iggy wears so well. Max catches up with him stress eating (a candy bar no less!) in the doctor’s lounge. Dr. Frome admits to stress eating and Max helps Iggy realize that Ruth is also his patient. With a clear course of intervention in mind, Dr. Frome continues.
In the way that only Iggy Frome can, he describes PTSD and how it can happen with any traumatic event. He disarmingly tells how his children (adopted from Bangladesh) were terrified of everything car horns, school bells and how they all slept in the same bed for months. He asks when she last slept well overnight? Never. He tells her he can help her and she can help Malik. A little hope in this crazy day.
In surgery, Dr. Richards is faced with a problem of his own. The bleeder that he can’t find seems to be in the abdomen, outside his scope of expertise. Rather than waiting for a general surgeon, he breaks protocol and begins expanding the surgical field for the abdomen. Dr. Bloom who has arrived for vindication with video evidence clearing her of any mistake, rushes to scrub in to assist. Dr. Richards, not one to second guess himself, assuredly continues to surgery and is able to stop the bleeding and repair the damage from the bullet. Malik’s aunt will get a chance to help him cope with this traumatic event.