The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science

The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 9:00pm - 11:00pm

Picture: The entrance to the Gonda building at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

Credit: Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers

A new two-hour documentary that tells the story of William Worrall Mayo, an English immigrant who began practicing medicine with his sons Will and Charlie in Rochester, Minnesota.

The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science, executive-produced by Ken Burns and directed by Burns, Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers, premieres Tuesday, September 25 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV. 

When a deadly tornado tore through their small community in 1883, the Mayos took charge of recovery efforts, enlisting the help of the nearby Sisters of Saint Francis to care for patients. Afterwards, Mother Alfred Moes, the leader of the convent, told Dr. Mayo she had a vision from God that instructed her to build a hospital, with him as its director. She believed it would become “world renowned for its medical arts.”

Blending historical narrative with contemporary patient stories, The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science is a timely look at how one institution has met the changing demands of healthcare for 150 years—and what that can teach us about facing the challenges of patient care today.

The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science begins with the story of Dr. W.W. Mayo who, after traveling throughout the Midwest looking for a place to practice, settled with his family in rural Minnesota. Together with the Sisters of Saint Francis and his sons Will and Charlie, he 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.

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. In spite of the daunting news, she finds comfort in finally getting a complete diagnosis and exploring possible treatments;

• 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;

• 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.

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.