Q: 'Isn't that Ken Burns at Mayo?' A: 'Yes, but he's not a patient'

Filmmaker Ken Burns is working on a documentary telling the story of Rochester's Mayo Clinic.
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From their perch outside the clinic their dad founded, the bronze likenesses of the Mayo brothers might have noticed America's most famous documentarian this week.

In a blog post, Mayo Clinic confirmed that filmmaker Ken Burns was in Rochester – and that he's collecting material for a two-hour PBS documentary.

Burns' "Better Angels Society" offers a brief description of the project on its website, saying it will chronicle the clinic's history "...from its 19th century roots as an unlikely partnership between a country doctor and the Sisters of Saint Francis ... to its position today as a worldwide model for collaborative patient care, research, and education."

In its post, Mayo says it has no control over the editorial content of the documentary. But a doctor who handles public affairs is said to be doing his best to point the producers toward stories that demonstrate the value of teamwork at Mayo and the connections between research and medicine.

The Post Bulletin also noticed Burns taking photos at this week's ceremonies memorializing Sister Generose Gervais.

Generose died earlier this month at age 97.

She was a longtime administrator of St. Mary's Hospital, which has symbolized that unlikely partnership between W.W. Mayo and the Franciscan sisters since its founding in 1889. Generose was the last nun to lead the hospital.

Mayo says before she died Sister Generose sat down for an interview with Burns – and likely gave the filmmaker a good education in the values underlying St. Mary's and the clinic.

Burns is producing the documentary with brothers Chris and Erik Ewers. Mayo says it's slated to be televised about two years from now.

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