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This article was published 2/5/2019 (200 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
St. Boniface Hospital and Winnipeg were referenced Wednesday night in a TV episode of Grey’s Anatomy — and hit the Twittersphere almost the instant the words were uttered.
By Thursday morning, hospital staff who hadn’t seen the show heard about it via a widely circulated internal email; hospital executives chuckled over it during their morning meeting.
The local hospital and the city were mentioned twice as the newest episode of the popular, long-running ABC network medical drama aired in prime time.
In the first reference, a cast member who plays a doctor at the hospital set in Seattle takes a long-distance call about an organ donation from someone from "St. Boniface, Winnipeg." (They got the pronunciation correct, too.)
The subplot, which features a tragic mix-up about a dying child who desperately needs an organ donation, gets one more Manitoba mention in a hallway exchange between the doctor and her boss (who’s also her husband).
That exchange defaults to an old canard about where Winnipeg is located: "Five hours and change" away by air, according to the script.
It’s not the first time Winnipeg's landed a mention on U.S. TV shows, but for a mid-sized city on the Canadian Prairies, big-time TV show exposure never gets stale and always draws attention.
Long-running Fox network show The Simpsons has pulled in Winnipeg for a laugh or two over the years. In one episode, Homer and the gang pass a road sign for the city that says: "Now Entering Winnipeg. We were born here. What’s your excuse?"
"We’re mentioned quite often. There’s something about Winnipeg, and I guess it was our turn," St. Boniface Hospital spokeswoman Micheline St-Hilaire said with a chuckle.
Every morning, senior hospital officials hold a leadership meeting. On Thursday, Grey’s Anatomy was the top of the agenda, St-Hilaire said.
"It’s quite a coup for St. Boniface. And it was the talk of the town this morning," she said. "We were thrilled."
A Free Press feature last year logged more than a dozen separate mentions of Winnipeg in TV shows and movies.
Twitter was buzzing, too.
"Thrilled that @sbbwinnipeg is mentioned on @GreysABC this week," the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation tweeted Thursday.
The hospital's charity arm proudly listed itself in the company of all the other hospital "giants" that have scored some script time on Grey’s Anatomy, including the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, and Boston’s Massachusetts General.
Alexandra is a veteran news reporter who has covered stories for the Winnipeg Free Press since 1987. She held the medical beat for nearly 17 years, and today specializes in coverage of Indigenous-related issues. She is among the most versatile journalists on the paper’s staff.