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“The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science”

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Blending historical narrative with contemporary patient stories, “The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science” — a new two-hour documentary executive-produced by Ken Burns and directed by Burns, Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers — takes a timely look at how one institution has met the changing demands of healthcare for 150 years. It also demonstrates what history can teach us about facing the challenges of patient care today.

Mayo Trio

Featuring interviews with patients, including the late John McCain and the Dalai Lama, the film tells the story of William Worrall Mayo, an English immigrant who began practicing medicine with his sons Will and Charlie in Rochester, Minnesota.

Mayo Clinic Nun

Beginning with the story of Dr. W.W. Mayo, the documentary shares how — following a deadly tornado in the rural Minnesota community in 1883 — he and his sons together with the Sisters of Saint Francis 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.

Historical surgery

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. Despite the daunting news, she finds comfort in finally getting a complete diagnosis and exploring possible treatments.
  • Abigail

  • 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, who doctors treat with a unique combination of surgery and chemotherapy that challenges conventional assumptions about the possibility of long-term remission.
  • Modern Surgery

  • 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.
  • Doctor in Scrubs

    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.

    AETN has also been proud to connect with Arkansas health systems that are members of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Both Unity Health of Searcy, Arkansas, and Northwest Health — with locations in Springdale and Bentonville — are independent health system members of a network that works closely with Mayo Clinic to improve the delivery of health care and better serve local patients and communities. (Find out more about the Mayo Clinic Care Network here, Unity Health here and Northwest Health here.) It’s been wonderful hearing the stories of Arkansans whose lives have been touched by advances from the Mayo Clinic. While these Arkansas stories from patients treated through Unity Health are not featured in the documentary film, they provide an excellent perspective on the Mayo Clinic’s local, ripple effects.

    Do you have a story that connects to ““The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science”? We’d love to hear more. Share with us in the comments!

    TUNE IN:

    Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 8 p.m.

    Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 9 p.m.


    “The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science”

    Mayo Clinic Care Network

    Unity Health

    Northwest Health