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Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns producing documentary on Mayo Clinic's history

Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns producing documentary on Mayo Clinic's history

Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns is working on a full-length documentary about the history of Mayo Clinic, sources confirmed this week.

According to producers, the two-hour film will "chronicle the history of this unique medical institution, from its 19th century roots as an unlikely partnership between a country doctor and the Sisters of Saint Francis—forged in response to a devastating tornado in 1883—to its position today as a worldwide model for collaborative patient care, research, and education."

Burns was in Rochester earlier this week capturing the ceremony honoring the late Sister Generose Gervais. Mayo Clinic's In the Loop blog reports Burns, who is executive producer of the film, even spent some time with Sister Generose prior to her death. "We assume that was something of an education about Mayo’s historical ties with the Sisters of Saint Francis, and they surely got schooled in the values that have guided Mayo Clinic since its earliest days," the blog says.

 

Burns and his crew have been working on the documentary for the past year, and will be filming for another 10 to 12 months. They have conducted interviews with historians, staff and patients, and notable leaders such as President and CEO John Noseworthy. The film is expected to be released in the fall of 2018.

“These types of stories help us demonstrate the intangibles of what makes Mayo Clinic what it is,” said Dr. John Wald, medical director for Mayo public affairs. He anticipates the final production will be something “that everyone associated with Mayo Clinic can be proud of.”

The Mayo Clinic will be produced by Burns, Erik Ewers, and Chris Ewers, and written by David Blistein. The documentary will be released on PBS in partnership with the Better Angels Society, a nonprofit film company "dedicated to the preservation of American history."


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