Friday, January 30, 2009

Let the show begin: ABC News to begin taping documentary based at the MGH

Beginning Feb. 2 and continuing through early June, the MGH will host a production team from ABC News as they film various MGH clinicians, staff, patients and their families for a hospital-based documentary set to air in the summer of 2010. The series comes on the heels of a similar one that ABC News produced last summer, featuring Johns Hopkins Hospital.


During 2008, ABC News approached the MGH and expressed interest in filming its next hospital documentary here. ABC Executive Producer Terry Wrong met with MGH senior leaders to discuss the project. During numerous meetings Ð which included MGH physician and nursing leadership, hospital administration, police and security, program directors and attorneys-- all aspects of patient care, quality, safety and confidentiality were considered. In the end, MGH senior leadership made the decision to move forward with ABC News to participate in the project.

The following are some general questions and answers regarding the project.


What can MGH staff and employees expect to see?

From their temporary headquarters based on Warren 8, the ABC production team will bedeployed to various areas of the hospital to capture moments as they happen. Filming will take place in a discreet and unobtrusive manner using only hand-held cameras. This styleof filmmaking is referred to as cinema verite and is much like being a "fly on the wall." MGHers may notice a cameraman with or without an ABC producer following specific caregivers and patients at appointments or procedures. Typically, news crews on the MGH campus are accompanied by a member of the Public Affairs Office, but because of the breadth and scope of this project, the ABC News team will have access throughout the hospital. Every ABC staff member will be wearing a hospital ID badge.



What has been done to ensure patient confidentiality?

Patient confidentiality and security have been thoroughly vetted for this project. The MGH and ABC News have created a specific patient consent form for this documentary. All patients who appear in the program will have signed the form. ABC News staff members have experience working in hospital settings where patient confidentiality is a priority, and they will have undergone patient confidentiality training with the MGH Privacy Office before filming has begun.


What should an MGH staff member do if he or she does not want to be filmed?

MGH staff and employee participation in this project is completely voluntary. Any employee can decline to be filmed by speaking directly with the cameraman or producer.


What will the ABC News crew film?

The ABC News production team will follow the activities of producer-selected staff members who are charismatic, confident and willing to be filmed. The crew also will record, as appropriate, appointments and procedures of patients who have given their consent. All ABC News staff will have undergone training in operating room protocol as well as patient confidentiality prior to filming.


Why is the MGH participating in this project?

The ABC News project is a rare opportunity to show the general public the many dimensions of the MGH, including the wide range of personalities comprising its caregivers, staff, patients and their families. There are many powerful moments that happen each day at the MGH. Opening the hospital to this project provides an unprecedented chance to give the public an overall sense of why academic medical centers such as the MGH make such a differencein so many individualsÕ lives. The project is a one-of-a-kind look at the life of the MGH for millions of viewers.


What will the documentary be called?

The documentary is slated to air in the summer of 2010. The name of the program, which will be determined by ABC, has not yet been decided.


Who can I contact if I have questions or concerns about this project?

For more information, contact Donita Boddie, director of MGH Public Affairs, at

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