Italy – Sorrisi – The true story that inspired “New Amsterdam”

With Eric Mannheimer

“Twelve patients: life and death at Bellevue Hospital” (literally: “12 patients: life and death at Bellevue Hospital”) by Dr. Eric Manheimer is the book behind the screenplay of the TV series

We are in Kips Bay on First Avenue in Manhattan, in the heart of New York. It was here on March 31, 1736 that Bellevue Hospital was founded , the oldest public hospital in the United States. A place that represents an important piece of American history and that, above all, inspired the “New Amsterdam” , the hospital where the Canale 5 series takes place.

The Bellevue has its roots in the first permanent hospice in the city. It was an imposing building with characteristic red bricks whose facade was almost identical to that of today, although this is now included within a more modern structure of glass and steel. Already 50 years after its foundation, Bellevue became a fundamental point of reference for the American scientific community. In fact, in 1878, the prestigious Columbia University sent some of its brightest students there.

Since then, the hospital has achieved a number of enviable firsts. A few examples? Here he opened the first maternity ward in the United States in 1799, then nearly a century later some of his doctors made great discoveries in the treatment of tuberculosis. But that is not all. In 1971, Bellevue researchers developed the first active immunization of hepatitis B and in 1996 created an innovative treatment for AIDS. On the other hand, the most difficult moment dates back to 2012. During the Uruguayan Sandy, the hospital was badly damaged and for this reason its patients were evacuated. Today it welcomes almost 500,000 patients every year, operates more than 100,000 first aid operations and is famous for its highly efficient psychiatry ward.

It was also used to shoot some scenes of the show, of course only on weekends to give as little disturbance as possible to the patients. The recent fortunes of Bellevue are closely linked to those of a doctor: Dr. Eric Manheimer , who was its medical director for 15 years and whose figure gave birth to the protagonist of “New Amsterdam”, Dr. Max Goodwin played by Ryan Eggold .

Manheimer started working at Bellevue in 1997: “The first thing I did as soon as I arrived? I started walking around the wards with a notepad, writing down all the things that I think needed to be corrected. In particular, I was interested in learning about the experiences and stories of the patients “says the doctor. Over the next 14 years, Manheimer ended up filling over 150 notebooks which were then used in the making of “Twelve patients: life and death at Bellevue Hospital” (literally: “12 patients: life and death at Bellevue Hospital”) .

It is the book behind the screenplay of the TV series. Manheimer is a man who knows suffering well, not just that of others. In fact, he too, like the protagonist of “New Amsterdam”, was struck by throat cancer: «It is becoming a very common pathology and requires very aggressive treatment. This is why it is essential to be treated in a place where a deep relationship is created with the doctors, because in that moment they are your family ». Exactly like it happens at the “New Amsterdam”. Today Dr. Manheimer teaches at New York University, but is back in the wards of his Bellevue thanks to “New Amsterdam” of which he is the author and producer. “I simply transferred my experience as a doctor, administrator, leader and medical director to the NBC writing team.

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