If you're in an emergency room and think you're about to die, maybe your last wish should be that Dr. Mehmet Oz passes through. It happens to a young man — writhing in agony after his aorta tears — on Thursday's season premiere of NY Med (June 26, 10/9c, ABC). Oz is back in action in the eight-part summer series from ABC News that takes viewers on an emotionally intense journey through New York-Presbyterian and other Manhattan-based hospitals. The show will also cross the Hudson River for a look inside University Hospital, which serves the rough streets of Newark, N.J. NY Med executive producer Terence Wrong offers some insights on what's coming up.
TV Guide Magazine: One of the lessons of the series is if you're going to get sick, you should get sick in Manhattan.
Terence Wrong: There are certain cases where that's true. If I'm going to get shot, I'd rather go Newark. In all surgery and medicine what counts is the volume — the amount of times you've done that surgery. The trauma guys in Newark are really as good as anywhere.
TV Guide Magazine: Newark's University Hospital looked more frenetic than the New York hospitals.
Wrong: They are very sensitive at University Hospital in Newark that they not be presented as a basket case. There is a thriving middle class there and the city has undertaken tremendous efforts to rehabilitate itself that are still ongoing. There is great love and affection between the medical staff in the hospital and the community they serve. At the same time, they can't deny the numbers, which is 7,000 gun shot wounds in the last 10 years. They can't deny the kind of cases that roll in and take up all the operating rooms so that leaves everybody running around desperate to save a life.
TV Guide Magazine: Was it more difficult to film there?
Wrong: Yeah. I had a female videographer who is very brave, and she was out with the University Hospital's ambulance corps getting to the scene of some situations before the police were even there. It was really hair-raising. The violence in Newark can happen literally outside the hospital door. While we were there, the manager and three customers were murdered in the IHOP right across the street. In another incident, a gang ran down and tried to get into the ER in pursuit of someone they shot. You are feeling viscerally the kind of danger and nervousness that exist in the trauma wards in Newark.
TV Guide Magazine: It's fascinating to watch Dr. Oz scrub up. How does one become a Dr. Oz patient?
Wrong: Whether the cameras are there are not, he operates. Does he operate at the volume of a younger surgeon who is there every day of the week? No, he doesn't. I know chiefs of departments of heart surgery around the country who don't operate more than Oz operates. He's kept his hand in it in a big way. He's there at 5:30 or 6:30 in the morning on his hospital days. You can be a former patient of his. You can request him. If you want to have your micro-valve replaced you can go to him as your doctor. He does drive-bys in the ER sometimes because he's fascinated and stuff happens. [In the season premiere] he ends up embroiled with a patient with a heart issue he didn't plan on.
TV Guide Magazine: In the first episode, a New York Presbyterian nurse is fired because she posted a picture of the ER on Twitter. That seemed surprising because personnel issues can get tricky. Did you need to do a lot of legal vetting to get that on the air?
Wrong: Remember ABC News is doing this series, so we operate under its standards and practices. We do not allow the hospital to see our edited footage before it airs and we don't seek their approval. As a fair play issue, was her firing fair or merited? She posted photos from inside her work place, an environment where patients assume there is medical confidentiality. There are strict codes and regulations. She admitted she was wrong to do it and they fired her for it. That sent a message to staff. If [the hospital] had a vote, would they have wanted that story in the series? I don't know. It's possible they wouldn't have.
TV Guide Magazine: But you don't ask.
Wrong: No. We're autonomous. That's part of the deal. If you let us in and you think you have a great hospital, that will come through over the course of the series. But in life there are lots of warts and blemishes and you have to be willing to show them all if you want people to believe you have great doctors and a great hospital.