Doctors and nurses have always made for excellent TV. From the old guard of shows like General Hospital and E.R. to more recent hits like Grey’s Anatomy, Nurse Jackie, and New Amsterdam, it seems like we can’t get enough medical shows that show us just how emotionally and physically exhausting it is to work in a hospital.
But none of these shows will prepare you for Lenox Hill, a new documentary series on Netflix that follows four physicians at New York's Lenox Hill hospital, which was once a “glorified community hospital” but recently has transformed into a more diverse and ambitious organization.
One of the doctors that Lenox Hill follows is John Boockvar, vice chair of the neurosurgery department and director of the hospital’s Brain Tumor Center.
Keep scrolling to find out more about this everyday hero.
Who is Dr. John Boockvar?
Dr. John Boockvar is an internationally renowned brain surgeon who also specializes in brain tumors and spinal disorders. He’s repeatedly been listed as one of New York Magazine’s Top Docs, as well as one of America’s Top Surgeons and America’s Best Doctors for Cancer. In the past five years, Dr. Boockvar was also elected to the prestigious Academy of Neurological Surgeons and the Senior Society of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.
Dr. Boockvar’s commitment to his patients is one of the highlights of the show. Both he and Dr. David Langer approach the life and death decisions as though their patients were their own family. The emotional drama that comes through is a particularly hard part to watch, given the immense pressures health care workers have been through in the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He told the New York Post, “[the pandemic] was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Not just [us] in the documentary but any health-care professional. We never had a day like we had during the pandemic.”
Dr. Boockvar is familiar with the highs and lows of hospital care.
When he started up in neurosurgery, he realized the extremely high mental and physical toll that his years of training and 10-hour surgeries was taking.
To combat the stress he started a meditation practice that he later began to promote to his colleagues as well. Now, surgeons at Lenox Hill use mindfulness practices to achieve a state of “flow,” also known as “being in the zone,” before any major procedure.
Although Dr. Boockvar emphasized that this documentary isn’t your run-of-the-mill fictionalized medical TV drama, stress levels are much higher now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Boockvar told to the Post that the pandemic had him and his team redeployed to run a COVID-19 clinical trial program that the doctor describes as “extremely interesting and fruitful.”
But even with the inadequate resources and immense stress unlike anything the health care industry has ever seen, Dr. Boockvar is amazed by what the hospital was able to accomplish.
“We all worked 24/7 to make sure that we held the line,” he says. “We did not let the front fall here in New York. I’m quite proud of how well everybody did.”
Lenox Hill would have been a remarkable ride for viewers even pre-pandemic, but after COVID-19, viewers are bound to be wowed by what these frontline heroes accomplish every day.
Lenox Hill arrives Wednesday, June 10 on Netflix.