Grey's Anatomy continues to shed light on the novel coronavirus in powerful ways.
During Thursday's episode, the long-running ABC medical drama paid special tribute to those who have been affected by and have lost their lives due to COVID-19 after Miranda Bailey's (Chandra Wilson) mom lost her battle to the coronavirus.
At the end of the emotional episode, which continued to follow the doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial as they navigate life in the pandemic, Bailey named a handful of patients' names who have been impacted by the virus in some way or another — specifically shedding light on those patients of color. When the scene wrapped, viewers watched as hundreds of names were listed on the screen.
After Bailey's mom — who was suffering from Alzheimer's — was admitted to the hospital due to contracting COVID, her organs began to fail, leaving her unable to fight her battle.
"She's decompensating, she barely knows who I am and I want to be there for her," an emotionally exhausted Bailey told Richard Webber. "I want her husband to be there for her. She deserves to be surrounded by love and family. But dad's in quarantine. He's high risk. I don't ant him to expose anyone and I don't want him to be exposed."
"I know this is not what you imagined for your mother and I'm sorry about that," said Webber. "She needs you now. It's time. If you don't go in, I promise you will never forgive yourself."
"Patients lose their power when they're referred to as 'Bed No. 4,' or 'Arm pain guy,'" Bailey said in the powerful voiceover at the end of the episode, as she sat next to her mother during her final breaths. "Even in their deaths, they are not faceless. They are not nameless. They are more than statistics, more than co-morbid conditions or nursing home patients. They are sons, brothers and uncles who speak five languages and run restaurants: Wade Klein, 66. They are great grandfathers who love Broadway: Jacob Lappin, 92. They are baseball-loving nurses with an easy laugh: Dane Wilson, 45. They are the world's greatest mothers and they are the most beloved wives: Elena Rose Bailey, 84."
“The inspiration for saying the names in the final voiceover was multifactorial," Zoanne Clack, the writer of Thursday's episode, said in a statement. "When my mom contracted and almost died of COVID, I was so mad that she might go down in history as one of the nameless, faceless ramifications of this disease. I was seeing how it was disproportionately affecting Black Americans, older Americans, and people who lived in assisted living. My mom was all of those. But she was also a teacher who has influenced many successful lives and she has an infectious laugh. That was the story I wanted people to remember, not that she was a victim of a pandemic."
"Fortunately after a long and hard-fought 7-week battle, she is now a COVID survivor," Clack continued. "So she doesn't have to be one among many. But there are so many who are among the many and who deserve to be more than numbers or statistics. The mom of another one of our writers, Barbara Driscoll, was 97 and had fought off numerous other infections and illnesses before she succumbed to COVID within one weekend. I'd be remiss to overlook the death of Brittany Bruno-Ringer, the 32-year-old nurse who took care of patient zero at my mom's memory care facility, who worked tirelessly without adequate PPE taking care of my mom and the other dementia residents."
She added, "I watched helplessly as two parents from my 'Caring for Parents with Alzheimer's' support group died within days of contracting the virus. 'Jacob Lappin' from the voiceover is a mix of Jack Lappin (the great grandfather) and Mitchell Lubitsch (the lover of Broadway). 'Wade Klein' is Warren Klein, the brother of one of the on set medical producers on the show, who also happens to be a nurse. And 'Dane Wilson' is Diane Wilson, an ICU nurse in Paris that passed during the first surge in Europe. I actually added her name onto another list that is constantly updated (and served as one of the inspirations for the end of the episode) which is on one of my medical websites called Medscape, titled: 'In Memoriam, Health Care Workers Who Have Died of Covid-19.'"
She concluded: "People from all over the world can submit names of colleagues, friends, and family members. As of July 1, the list included more than 1800 names from 64 countries ranging in age from 20 to 99. The last update was Dec. 3 so no telling how many names are on it now. The final inspirations came from (1) the powerful article in The New York Times that named the 100,000 lives we had lost to Covid at that point (An Incalculable Loss," published at the end of May) and (2) the BLM movement where protestors held up the names of black lives that are now resting in power. "Silence is compliance" became a battle call for me, and the framing of this episode was my reaction. It is my small contribution to lived lives full of substance not being forgotten."
The episode touched on another social issue during a heartfelt conversation between Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) and Webber.
"Do you realize half of our COVID patients are Black and Brown?" Avery asked. "They say that 7 percent Black, how does that even compute? If I hear one more person blame it on pre-existing conditions if the conditions aren't man-made to begin with. Like we're not pushing at the front line of all of our jobs for us to live in over-crowded situations surrounded by environmental hazards. With systemic racism is the root for the whole damn thing. Forget the 'pre." It's the existing condition. Existing while Black."
Meanwhile, Teddy continued to struggle with the aftermath of her affair with Tom Koracick (Greg Germann) — and things really came into question after he was admitted to the hospital after becoming infected with COVID-19.
"I don't know if you were ignoring me when I came by the house or if you were too sick to answer, but I'm going to go with too sick because then maybe there's a ray of hope for us which I could really use right now," Reddy told a bed-ridden Koracik. "I know you could. I'm going to stop asking. I'm just going to decide. I'm deciding that we mean enough to each other, even though I hurt you more than I could ever imagine that a repair could be made. That maybe you could remember some of things that you don't hate about me, that we could salvage our friendship. I don't know how we're going to get through this pandemic, but I do know that we're not going to get through it alone. If you want to have nothing to do with me, then you're just going to have to get all better and tell me yourself. Until I hear you say the words, you're not going to get rid of me."
"You're wrong," Koracick said, with a small chuckle. "When you came to my house, I was ignoring you."
As for Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington), a career change may in the cards after she delivered her first baby and had a change of heart.
"It was the happiest things I've ever seen," she told Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli). "So pure and simple. It was perfect. I was buzzing. It was a totally random fluke and tomorrow I'll be back to the same dressing crap. Do think that's why Karina DeLuca is always in such a good mood? She's just handing out babies. What if I changed careers, programs? Is that insane? I know I put years into surgery, but if it's not bringing any joy, then wouldn't it be insane to not change? "
" I think you eat and sleep before you make any major decisions," Schmitt said.
"I want to be happy. Everyone's dying. Tomorrow is not promised, not in marriage, not in life. I want to be happy.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET/PT) on ABC.
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