Eight's Focus on Healthcare

For decades, Eight, Arizona PBS has been developing an unparalleled broadcast expertise in educating viewers about their healthcare choices. Today's need for such consumer information has never been greater. America's healthcare landscape is changing, and it's shifting the burden of responsibility to patients to take a more assertive role in their own care. This leaves many patients feeling inadequately informed about their own health concerns. Recognizing this growing need, Eight premieres The Latest Procedure to keep viewers current on healthcare options available to them.


World's First Telecast of Open Heart Surgery

Eight’s anticipated new series, The Latest Procedure, brings the PBS member station full circle in its efforts to help Arizonans be smarter healthcare consumers. For it was nearly 30 years ago, in 1983, that Eight and the Arizona Heart Institute co-produced the first live broadcast of open heart surgery in the world.

“I find it somewhat prophetic that one of Dr. Ted Firestone’s best-known patients, Dr. Edward Diethrich, was also the world-renowned cardiac surgeon featured in Eight’s live telecast of open heart surgery almost 30 years ago,” said Eight’s McCullough. “With the launch of The Latest Procedure, we’re building on our legacy of helping Arizonans become smarter healthcare consumers.”

Dr. Diethrich was Medical Director of Arizona Heart Institute, a diagnostic and treatment center for heart disease, when it co-produced The Operation with Eight in February 1983. He performed the surgery from St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Facility in Phoenix.

The patient was Bernard Schuler, 62, a retired insurance salesman who spent his winters in Arizona. The anchor team for The Operation was Rick D'Alli, science editor for Horizon, and cardiologist Dr. Sam Kinard. The program was carried live by 97 PBS stations in 33 states.

Three video camera operators (one on an elevated dolly over the table) and several still photographers joined Diethrich, his 12-member surgical crew and Schuler in the second-floor operating room. Overhead in a small room with an eight-sided glass dome, another Eight video cameraman and more than a dozen reporters, photographers and observers looked on as Diethrich began the procedure by making a 14-inch incision from the upper end of Schuler's sternum with a specially designed electric saw. To see photos and video, click here.

Dr. Ted Diethrich of the Arizona Heart Institute was the first surgeon to perform open heart surgery on live broadcast television. This landmark telecast was broadcast nationwide on PBS and internationally on the BBC. Entitled “The Operation” it was a co-production of KAET-TV and VAS Communications from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Cameras placed above and around the room allowed for every area of the surgical theater to be covered at all times. KAET’s science editor Rick D’Alli and co-host, cardiologist Dr. Sam Kinard commentate on the procedure from the former KAET Arizona State University studios in Tempe.  Floor director Tom Kioski readies the cues. Camera Operator Chris Stephens focuses on the saphenous vein graft being prepared after being removed from the leg. Dr. Nelson Dyess monitors the patient’s heart rate. Producer Richard Williams prepares the overhead camera boom during rehearsals Members of the press view the landmark broadcast from the surgical observation dome above the St. Joseph’s surgical theater. Patient Bernard Schuler is transported from the surgical prep area into the operating room. As members of the press view from above the surgical and production teams worked in synchronization. Note producer/cinematographer Richard Williams laying on the surgical boom to capture the critical overhead views directly into the chest cavity. Producer/cinematographer Richard Williams adjusts lighting over the surgical field. Sterilized television cables (shown hanging from the ceiling) were run from the production truck in the St. Joseph’s parking lot to the surgical operating theater. Cameras placed above and around the room allowed for every area of the surgical theater to be covered at all times. Using a “poor man’s dolly,” actually a hospital wheel chair, KAET camera operator Larry Meyers captures Bernard Schuler being wheeled into the operating room. Camera operator Chris Stephens captures heart-lung perfusionist Gary Mandel as he prepares to take over blood flow to the body as the heart is stopped. Post-surgery, floor director Don Hopfer places a microphone on Dr. Diethrich as he heads to the intensive care unit to discuss Bernard Schuler’s post-operative care. 16.	The cameras and microphones for the operative part of the broadcast from St. Joseph’s were mixed from this production truck stationed in the hospital parked lot. Executive producer Charles Allen speaks to the production team meet just prior to the broadcast to go over final details. Members of the production team prepare to capture a shot of patient Bernard Schuler being rolled into the operator room. KAET’s science editor  Rick D’Alli goes for production notes prior to the broadcast. Members of the press view the landmark broadcast from the surgical observation dome above the St. Joseph’s surgical theater. Camera operator Chris Stephens captures a shot. Director Jeff Halberg choreographs camera shots and angles before the room is prepared for surgery. Nurse Paula Banahan meets with patient Bernard Schuler a few days after his coronary artery bypass.
  • Camera ft being prepared after being removed from the leg.

Dr. Edward Diethrich visited Eight and The Latest Procedure set during a break in filming.  He shared thoughts about his experience and encouragement to the production team involved in the pilot.

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1987 – The Implant: Hip Replacement Surgery

Viewer response to Eight’s 1983 telecast of open-heart surgery prompted a new production, The Implant: Hip Replacement Surgery in November 1987. The award-winning 90-minute special produced by Eight was the first broadcast of total hip replacement surgery. Dr. Anthony Hedley, an international expert in human joint replacement, was the surgeon who first diagnosed the problem of acute osteoarthritis and then performed the surgery before Eight’s cameras at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix. Besides following the patient from consultation through rehabilitation, the program explored the design and manufacture of the implant itself.

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Implant II: Knee Replacement Surgery

In March 1990, Eight brought viewers another innovative surgery – one that offered new hope at the time for patients suffering from arthritis and other disabling knee pain. Once again, renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Hedley performed the operation at St. Luke’s Medical Center. He replaced the patient’s diseased knee joint with a three-piece implant made of plastics and superalloys. The design of the implant permitted the patient’s own bone to grow into the implant, locking it into place without the use of cement.

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The Implant III: Hip Revision Surgery

Six years later, Eight was back in the operating room, again with Dr. Anthony Hedley, to document surgical advances with The Implant III: Hip Revision Surgery. This was the first-ever telecast of his new hip “revision” procedure, which removed a worn-out hip prosthesis and replaced it with a new, computer-designed device. Dr. Hedley and his colleagues pioneered the development and implantation of the new hip device into which bone tissue could grow and anchor it minus cement.

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The Latest Procedure: Anterior Hip Replacement Surgery

On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Eight brought the operating room into viewer living rooms for the launch of The Latest Procedure Series with The Latest Procedure: Anterior Total Hip Replacement Surgery. Arizona's own orthopedic surgeon Dr. Theodore Firestone explained step-by-step this innovative approach currently used in only 20 percent of hip replacement surgeries nationally. During this hour-long program, viewers got a bird's-eye view of the operation through a mini-cam strapped to the surgeon's head, and watched his play-by-play account of the surgery. Following the procedure, Dr. Firestone took viewers back to the patient's recovery room only two hours after the operation – and our cameras took viewers with the patient as she took her first steps down the hall!

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