Fans of Grey’s Anatomy have watched the journey of the doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital (now Grey’s Sloan Memorial Hospital) navigate through the sorrows and triumphs of their professional and personal lives. Each victory was filled with an equal share of loss. But the doctors aren’t the only medical personnel who’ve faced life and death struggles. The nurses have also been in the medical trenches hoping to survive the battle and the war against illness and death. Let’s talk about two of these nurses: Frankie and Ginger.
In the Season 15 Episode 7 episode titled “Anybody Got a Map?” Nurse Frankie (Stacey Oristano) desperately wanted to have a baby that she had endured three rounds of IVF and a miscarriage so she refused to have surgery when Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) discovered she developed a wandering spleen that was cutting off her blood supply putting both she and her baby at risk. For Frankie this was the end of the line for her. As she put it “All my eggs are in one basket.” She WOULD NOT risk losing her child and would “sick Ginger on you” if anyone attempted to take her into the OR.
For those who know Nurse Ginger (Patricia Bethune), this WAS not a threat to be taken lightly. Ginger is the den mother of Grey’s Sloan keeping everyone in line. She’ll even stand up to the doctors when needed. Ginger was not someone to mess with! But beneath Ginger’s iron fist lies a caring and comforting hand. She’s there for Frankie (and all the nurses) and wants what’s best for them.
I think Frankie and Ginger are perfect counterparts. Both are spunky and determined. They’re not all “yes doctor” if they feel strongly about something. I would have loved to have seen more scenes between these two characters. Bethune and Oristano acted so well off each other it was easy to picture a longtime working relationship filled with respect and admiration. Unfortunately, Frankie doesn’t survive her deadly wandering spleen. She’s rushed into surgery where although her baby is saved, she dies on the operating table. The nurses (especially Ginger) are distraught and overcome with grief.
Frankie’s death triggers a strong reaction in Dr. Richard Webber. He attends an AA meeting where he learns of a local bar that offers “chips for shots.” Webber, a recovering addict, goes to the bar, turns in one of his sobriety chips then takes a baseball bat to the liquor bottles destroying the merchandise. He seethes that the greedy owner is preying on and profiting off alcoholics.
I hope Patricia Bethune will make another return to Grey’s Anatomy. Viewers assume that Nurse Ginger is always around the hospital. But I believe there would be benefits in bringing her out of the shadows. In addition to the commanding acting presence of Bethune, Nurse Ginger is just what the newest crop of interns need to set them on the path to be useful doctors.
Kudos to Oristano and Bethune for showing the doctors aren’t the only characters on Grey’s Anatomy dealing with medical crises and situations that test them as people. And thank you Grey’s Anatomy writers for continuing to reach deep into your characters and making them people we care about.
Photos Courtesy of ABC and Grey’s Anatomy
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