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Ken Burns shares the story of Mayo Clinic on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers'

Ken Burns shares the story of Mayo Clinic on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers'

Expect some national attention on Rochester and Mayo Clinic this week.

Tuesday’s release of the new Ken Burns documentary is putting the focus on a story we all know well — and sharing it with millions worldwide.

The filmmaker recently appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to promote the two-hour documentary and share with the audience some of the lessons he learned while spending three and a half years exploring Mayo Clinic.

Burns said while the film is not meant to be political, he does think the Mayo model is worth paying closer attention to as we try to navigate what he described as a “screwed up health care system” in America.

"It’s not saying single-payer or this, or you’re right or wrong,” said Burns. “It’s saying what’s in front of us is an amazing example of what works.”

During his appearance on Late Night, Burns discussed the origins of Mayo Clinic — with the collaboration of W.W. Mayo and the Sisters of St. Francis — and described it as a story you “couldn’t sell to a Hollywood producer.”

“It’s the kind of story we need right now,” Burns told Meyers.

Burns, who first began tinkering with the idea of a Mayo film when he was a patient here, has been the hospital’s best spokesperson in recent weeks.

In addition to the appearance with Seth Meyers, Burns has also been interviewed by numerous other news agencies, including the Associated Press and CNBC, about his experience producing the film.

With each interview, it is clear Burns is a believer in Mayo’s “special sauce.”

“Right now, in our minds, despite some shortcomings, this is the best place on earth” to receive medical care, he said following a premiere in Rochester earlier this month.

A few of those shortcomings — including the story of a patient whose health coverage would not allow her to be treated at Mayo — were highlighted in the film. However, the story told was largely one of collaboration, innovation, sacrifice and extraordinary miracles.

During the Q&A in Rochester, Dr. John Noseworthy, Mayo’s president and CEO, admitted “we’re not perfect” — but added that he appreciated the honest and fair lens in which Burns and his crew shared the Mayo story.

“The respect you showed to our patients, our staff, the families, the history, our culture — its’s an exquisite piece of genius that you have woven together,” said Dr. Noseworthy.

“The Mayo Clinic: Faith-Hope-Science” debuts on PBS this Tuesday, September 25 at 8 p.m. CT.

Cover photo: Screenshot via “Late Night with Seth Meyers”

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