New Amsterdam Premiere!
Welcome to New Amsterdam, the world’s oldest public hospital. New Amsterdam hospital needs to balance being a public hospital with being cutting edge in a competitive market with consumer choice. We start the show with a little insight into newly minted Medical Director, Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) your typical type-A physician who starts the day with a run to work.
We catch up with Max donning scrubs for his shift in the locker room that is not a fancy lounge for physicians. He listens in as the nursing and custodial staff bet against his success and lament being unheard. As he joins his assistant for a tour, he offers up regular meetings, so they can be heard. He also bets on himself, “I’ll take those odds.”
Let’s meet the staff
The physicians assemble in the auditorium for their first introduction to the new Medical Director and for some of them – it’s for the fifth time in five years. We meet Dr. Bloom, Emergency Department, and Dr. Floyd of Cardiac Surgery already engaged in a game of cat and mouse over getting “a drink”.
We then meet a seemingly frazzled Dr. Iggy Frome of Psychiatry who takes his seat by Dr. Kapoor of Neurology. Clearly these colleagues have worked together for a while and are unimpressed by meeting another new medical director.
Dr. Max Goodwin, Medical Director, opens his speech with his personal story of New Amsterdam. How he and his sister were both born here and how his sister died here. After getting the attention of the physicians he asks a simple question, “How can I help?” and is met with silence. He gets the attention of everyone in the room when he fires the entire Cardiac Surgery department. Really! With a shrinking audience, Max tries again, “How can I help?”
Dr. Bloom asks to overhaul the way the ED triages by taking patients straight to a bed (wouldn’t that be amazing in reality!). Done.
Dr. Frome cautiously asks for healthy food. Done.
Clearly, Dr. Max Goodwin is a different kind of medical director who wants to change the system from the inside. His plan? Let doctors be doctors again. A novel idea.
Managing such a large medical facility takes attention to broad ideas and minutia. Minutia like having a patient who needs heart surgery when you have fired the entire department. That’s when, at the prompting of Dr. Bloom, Max visits Dr. Floyd. In Dr. Floyd we find a surgeon who is reluctant to cut first, one who believes that sometimes there are better courses of treatment without surgery. That is the kind of thinking Max likes and Dr. Floyd is rehired and tasked to rebuild the Cardiac Surgery department.
We also meet Dr. Helen Sharp. A world-renowned Oncologist busy with public appearances outside the hospital. Through multiple interactions, Max is intrigued by her but unwilling to bend on this tenet of his professional credo: Doctors must treat patients.
You think you’ve had a tough day? These are the crises facing Max on his first day.
A neurology resident is convinced that Dr. Kapoor is unwilling to properly treat a patient and may cause her death.
A patient presents with possible symptoms of Ebola requiring coordination with the CDC and very specific protocols to be followed.
Dr. Frome is faced with finding a plan for a teenager who has been repeatedly abused in the foster system.
The ED is full of dignitaries from the UN.
He gets a call from his wife that there is a problem with the baby.
Does this pass the plausibility test? Absolutely. In a hospital the size of New Amsterdam, there can be hundreds of concurrent emergent events. An engaged Medical Director like Dr. Goodwin would want to be involved in real-time. How can I help?
As we close the day, this crack team of doctors has been able to solve mysteries, offer treatments and stabilize the situations. A calm seems to wash over the hospital until Dr. Sharp comes in to speak with Max. Just as you believe that Max is getting a handle on the job and might just figure out his personal life too, a single word places him right back on shifting sand: cancer. That’s right, as we close the first episode we find that our endearing Dr. Max Goodwin has cancer, a new job, and a pregnant wife on bedrest. The advice from Dr. Sharp? You need to slow down. Her inevitable question: “How can I help?”
After just one episode, I am hooked. This is not just a medical drama, it is a song of hope – and I truly believe the show will be epic. The recurring theme of “How can I help?” is such a simple concept, but it feels very of-the-moment and something we desperately need. We have already seen that the writers are not afraid of curve balls and not every story gets a happy ending. It brings a believable quality to a fictional setting.
As a frequent consumer of health care services, the idea of changing the system from within resonates very personally with me. Watching the beautiful portrayal of an emergent situation similar to one I experienced was inspiring. So often, Hollywood can miss the mark when recreating difficult human experiences. In my opinion, New Amsterdam does it masterfully.
Make your appointment for next Tuesday at 10/9c to find out if Dr. Goodwin and the other doctors at New Amsterdam can change the system from the inside.
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