In the midst of a pandemic that has paralyzed the world, a team of CBS News journalists embedded with emergency physicians and critical care specialists struggling to save patients suffering fromin "Bravery and Hope: 7 Days on the Front Line," a one-hour, primetime special set at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. The special will air Friday, May 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
"" goes to the floors of the largest hospital in the hardest-hit borough of New York City. Montefiore Medical Center's Moses Campus was bursting with nearly 700 patients, 80% of whom were diagnosed with COVID-19.
A CBS News team, clad in protective equipment, spent seven days in the emergency department and intensive care units following physicians as they urgently placed patients on breathing machines and resuscitated others suffering cardiac failure.
The medical staff fear getting sick and exposing their families, even as they treat the gravely ill.
"We're often talking about life and death situations. There are no small emergencies. They'e all patients having respiratory distress or cardiac arrest," says Dr. Michelle Gong, chief of Critical Care Medicine.
The hospital had to convert an auditorium to treat the staggering increase in COVID-19 patients — 70 of whom died during the week CBS News was embedded.
Alongside the loss, there are victories: In that same time span, more than 300 patients recovered and were able to go home.
Nurse Jasmine Christakos, a Bronx native, dances whenever the hospital overhead speaker announces a "happy code," signaling a patient has been discharged or taken off a ventilator.
"It's just so hopeful and brings so much joy during dark times and reminds us that people do go home ... people do beat this," Christakos says.
The documentary captures the toll the disease has taken on one of the poorest and worst-stricken neighborhoods in New York City and the nation. A Bronx father lights candles and prays that his son, a first responder, will recover and come home from the hospital. From the back of a pickup truck, a parish priest rolls through the neighborhood with a loudspeaker, blessing the sick and homebound.
And a Montefiore nurse, Selena Thomas, grows weary as she counts the lives lost to a cruel and mysterious virus.
"It's necessary for us to acknowledge that some communities have been touched by COVID more than others," Thomas says. "If we don't acknowledge that we can't fix the problem."
"Bravery and Hope: 7 Days on the Front Line" tells the story of a global crisis through the people of one city, one community, and one hospital.
"Bravery and Hope: 7 Days on the Front Line" is produced by Andrew Bast, T. Sean Herbert, Gilad Thaler, Josh Gaynor, Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson, Pat Milton, Sasha Reuther, and Marcelena Spencer.
Josh Gelman is the senior producer. Diana Decilio, Seth Fox, Michael McHugh, and Michael Vele are the producer-editors. Danielle Levy is the field producer. Iris Carreras and Dylan Gordon are the associate producers. Holden Frandino is the assistant editor.
Guy Campanile and Mitch Weitzner are the executive producers. Susan Zirinsky is president and senior executive producer of CBS News.