‘Pandemic’ strikes Gilbert — on film - East Valley Tribune: News

‘Pandemic’ strikes Gilbert — on film

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Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2006 8:51 pm | Updated: 4:09 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Gilbert’s newest hospital will star in a movie meant to warn and educate the public about the threat of a pandemic mutating from the feared bird flu.

Mercy Gilbert Medical Center was used this week as a set for the British Broadcasting Corp. and Discovery Channel’s docudrama “Pandemic.”

The TV movie, expected to be released in November in the United Kingdom and later here on the Discovery Channel, takes place in Indonesia and the fictitious U.S. town of Fleetwood.

The movie weaves a dramatic fictitious story of how governments would react to an outbreak of the feared flu virus — with documentary interviews with experts about how real the threat is.

“The best way to beat it, if it does arrive, is to know what is up,” said director Peter Leonard, who also directs the BBC science documentary “Horizon” series.

In the film, experts from the World Health Organization and nations facing the current form of the bird flu are interviewed. Scenarios are acted out as to how governments may need to respond to the bird flu. Scenes filmed in Chandler play out how Fleetwood officials might decide to quarantine an affected community. Scenes filmed in Phoenix depict a man in the film flying home from a conference in Hawaii — carrying the virus to the U.S.

Film researcher Sophie Wallace said it’s important that people — not just governments — be on the outlook for an outbreak. Theoretically, if it can be contained, she said, experts believe they can quarantine an area, give residents there antiviral drugs and try to stop a major spread.

It could take months to find a vaccine, so holding off the spread will be important, since there is no other cure, experts say.

Eight hospital nurses played key extra roles, as they worked in the hospital’s isolation rooms, playing out how a hospital would react if it came across an unusual flu virus.

The nurses said they want viewers to know that hospitals here are prepared to respond and aid victims, as well as contact authorities.

“We have these throughout the hospital,” said Cathy Jagos, a nurse and ER educator, as she stood outside an isolation room, which allows health care workers to decontaminate and prevent spread to the hospital.

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