For more information: Teri L Sullivan
WKNO Promotions Manager
August 3, 2011
For Immediate Release
NEW WKNO DOCUMENTARY EXPLORES
MEMPHIS MEDICAL HISTORY
WKNO Public Broadcasting will explore nearly 150 years of the medical history of Memphis – a history filled with growth, disaster, disease and achievements – in a new 60-minute documentary. City of Good Samaritans: Memphis Medicine, 1819-1962 will premiere Thursday, September 22 at 9:00 p.m. on WKNO/Channel 10.
Major production funding for this special is provided by The Dr. Iris Pearce Estate.
In 1858 the Steamboat Pennsylvania exploded down river from Memphis. Among the seriously injured that were taken to Memphis was Henry Clemens, brother of Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain. Twain came to his bedside, wrote letters home to the family and was here when Henry died. Years later in his memoir Life On The Mississippi, Twain re-visited his days in Memphis and praised the doctors and nurses who cared for Henry and proclaimed that the city was “experienced ... in the gracious office of the Good Samaritan.”
“When I began this documentary,” said producer Cris Hardaway, “I asked myself ‘Why Memphis?’ Why did we develop a thriving medical community that today represents over 10% of the economic output of the city and employs one out of every nine workers in Memphis.” The answer begins in the nineteenth century with the geography of the city. Sitting on the Mississippi River and intersected by the railroads, Memphis became a crossroads for hundreds of thousands of travelers every year. That brought doctors to the region and prompted the state to build the first hospital here.
Medical schools followed. The Civil War established the city’s reputation as a hospital center. A hospital building boom in the early twentieth century and the establishment of UT Medical College laid the foundation for a thriving medical center. Memphis attracted renowned physicians who earned national and international reputations for their work. That, in turn, has led to the active medical infrastructure and the huge medical device industry that calls Memphis home.
Hardaway and his two-person research team spent more than six months pulling together the pieces of this story. There are thousands of photographs, drawings, maps, newspaper articles, internet archives, diaries, letters, ledgers, memorabilia and film footage that tell the story, along with twelve hours of interviews with historians, archivists and physicians.
“This documentary showcases the rich medical history of Memphis,” said Michael J. LaBonia, President and CEO of WKNO. “We are grateful for the grant from the Dr. Iris Pearce Estate which allows WKNO to share this important story with the community.”
The documentary closes with the story of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Danny Thomas may not have been a doctor or a medical professional, but he certainly is responsible for one of the greatest chapters in Memphis medical history. By keeping the prayerful promise he made to St. Jude Thaddeus, Thomas built one of the greatest treatment and research centers for childhood cancer in the world. He was truly a Good Samaritan.
Major production funding for The City of Good Samaritans is provided by the Dr. Iris Pearce Estate. Additional funding provided by the WKNO Production Fund and WKNO Endowment Fund. The broadcast of this special is sponsored by Semmes-Murphy Clinic, Bowden Internal Medicine – Dr. Marcia R. Bowden, and Baptist Hospital.
City of Good Samaritans: Memphis Medicine, 1819-1962 premieres Thursday, September 22 at 9:00 p.m. It will also air Friday, September 23 at 9:00 p.m. on WKNO2, available over the air on Channel 10.2 and on Comcast Digital Cable Channel 910.
WKNO is a non-profit, private foundation serving the Mid-South for more than 50 years. An important community resource, WKNO uses the power of non-commercial public broadcasting to provide the Mid-South with quality educational and cultural programs that inform, entertain, and inspire. For more information: wkno.org