Strong Medicine

Strong Medicine

infobox television
show_name = Strong Medicine

caption =
format = Medical/Drama
runtime = 60 minutes
creator =
starring = Rosa Blasi
Janine Turner (2000-2002)
Patricia Richardson (2002-2005)
Rick Schroder (2005-2006)
Philip Casnoff (2000-2005)
Josh Coxx
Brennan Elliott (2000-2004)
Tamera Mowry (2004-2006)
Nestor Carbonell
Jenifer Lewis
country = United States
network = Lifetime
first_aired = July 23, 2000
last_aired = February 5, 2006
num_episodes = 132 episodes

:"For the Arthur Hailey novel, see Strong Medicine (novel)"

"Strong Medicine" is a medical drama with a focus on feminist politics, health issues and class conflict. The television series aired on the Lifetime network from 2000 to 2006. It is distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The series was created and produced in part by comedienne and activist Whoopi Goldberg, who made a couple of cameos in the series, and Tammy Ader. The show employed a variety of regular and guest writers.

On November 1, 2005, Lifetime TV announced the cancellation of the series. The final episode of the series aired on February 5, 2006.


The show centers on the staff of fictional Rittenhouse Hospital in Philadelphia, largely involving the operations of the ER and a free women's health clinic, run by inner-city success story Dr. Luisa "Lu" Delgado. The urban facility receives a diverse mixture of patients, from upper- and middle-class patients, which generally allows the hospital to finance the free clinic, and lower-class or poor patients, who come to take advantage of Dr. Delgado's hospital-funded services.

The staff and its visitors tend to be racially, politically, and economically diverse. A core class/political duality in the episodes' storylines tend to be driven by comparisons and contrasts (and often cooperation) between liberal Delgado, and her fellow women's health practitioner across the lobby, who sees paying patients and generally has more conservative values -- this role has been filled by various characters, most recently Dr. Dylan West. The show often places the characters in ironic, soul-searching situations in which they are forced to question the solidity of their personal beliefs or else cause them to fight for what they believe in.

Main characters

Main characters on the show as of last season include:

Dr. Luisa "Lu" Magdalena Delgado

(Rosa Blasi) Born 11/18/70cite episode | title = Rape Kit | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 2 | number = 20] . Delgado runs the free clinic (first the South Philly Health Clinic and, since the pilot, the Rittenhouse Health Center), and hosts a support group (most 2003 and 2004 episodes open with a scene from these meetings). Both as a friend and a doctor to many lower-class patients, Delgado regularly comes face-to-face with bitterly ironic situations involving the difficulties of the lower class with government, debt, drug abuse, and exploitation. Her character exhibits a perennial cleverness which allows her to wheedle or persuade positive outcomes from seemingly hopeless cases of victimization. She was raised by her grandmother, Isabel Santana, who now lives in Puerto Rico, and had a son, Marc, when she was 16, whom she raised alone. Marc has been at college since the 2004-2005 season.

Until recently, Delgado has had no luck with a relationship. Her first boyfriend, Radio show host Harry Burr (Don Michael Paul) had to leave her because his ex-wife was using their relationship to gain custody of his daughter Erin, who was also her son Marc's girlfriend. In fact, shades of Lu's past came back to haunt her when Marc and Erin faced a pregnancy scare. [cite episode | title = Precautions | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 2 | number = 17] Soon after, she survived being raped by the Rittenhouse's new Head of Surgery, Dr. Randolf Kilner.

She lost her first serious boyfriend, fireman Miguel "Mickey" Arenas (Julian Acosta), to a murder perpetrated by one of her patients [cite episode | title = The Hero Heart | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 4 | number = 1] , forcing her to face her moral objection to the death penalty. Ironically, in an earlier episode, Lu thought Miguel had died on the job, when there was a fire at the local mall. It turns out the only reason he didn't die, is because he switched duties with friend and ended up driving the fire truck. Lu later becomes involved with Ben Sanderson (Grant Show), an administrator brought on after Rittenhouse is bought by a health care conglomerate, Octavian. Sanderson later left to be reassigned to a facility in Miami. He asked Lu to come with him but, after thinking about it, she refused because her patients are there.cite episode | title = Goodbye Slash Rest in Peace | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 5 | number = 6]

Soon after, she became involved with Jonas Rey, a local self-made millionaire with a good heart but a large soulless corporation. In the 2005-2006 season she and Jonas get married, and Lu struggles to get accustomed to a wealthier life, while trying to reconcile it with her inner-city loyalties. After Lu discovered she was pregnant with Jonas' baby, Jonas is plagued by an embezzlement scandal at his company, bringing his fortune into doubt.

In the series finale, they decided to move to Jonas' childhood home, but while he was showing it to Lu, they were affected by an explosion and got caught in the ruined basement. Lu was injured and her placenta detached. She asked Jonas to perform an emergency C-Section to save her and the baby, but she fainted during the procedure. Luckily, the firemen arrived and called Dylan, who completed the C-Section, and Lu gave birth to their daughter, whom was named Milagro (which means "miracle" in Spanish). cite episode | title = Special Delivery | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 6 | number = 22]

Dr. Dylan West

(Rick Schroder) Replacing Dr. Campbell's role is Dr. Dylan West, a male women's health specialist. His gender raises initial eyebrows, especially with Delgado, who has also had past negative experiences with him as a resident. He has his own troubled past and seems to be seeking to redeem himself from something in his past. He is a diabetic, which becomes a recurring plot device. Dylan has tremendously bad luck in romance. One such former love interest arrives at Rittenhouse needing a new heart to survive; West is unable to save her life, but gains a teenaged half-Japanese daughter, Araya (Eileen Boylan), he never knew he had [cite episode | title = Paternity Test | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 6 | number = 7] . His relationship with his daughter is troubled at first, but slowly they get to know each other.

Peter Riggs

(Josh Coxx) A registered nurse and midwife, Peter is generally progressive, open-minded, and an eager advice-giver. He practices Buddhism and believes in the principles of holistic medicine. He is often a kindred spirit to Delgado. Often, Riggs' character makes a balanced sociopolitical observation that influences a positive action by one of the two doctors; other times he is the protagonist of action. He was also the nurse union representative. [cite episode | title = Shock | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 2 | number = 18]

When he met Lu, he almost ran over her with his van. He played the Bass Guitar in a band until his girlfriend Simone (the lead singer) dumped him during a fire, and Lu gave him a job in her new free clinic. cite episode | title = History | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 2 | number = 4]

Often shown as a ladies man with several girlfriends, he finally has settled into a relationship with Kayla, to whom he proposes in the series finale.

Lana Hawkins

(Jenifer Lewis) Hawkins serves as the front receptionist for the RWHC, or the Rittenhouse Women's Health Center. A former drug addict and streetwalker long since rehabilitated, she met Lu at the same bar Peter and his band were playing at. After a fire destroyed the bar and the owner rented the locale to Lu for her clinic, she gave Lana a job. She has two sons, Harry, an officer in the Navy and Maurice, a con artist who once pretended he had a wife and son to trick his mother out of money.

Hawkins is the hospital's eyes and ears, i.e. chief gossip, as well as matchmaker, and general benevolent schemer and rule-bender. Lana often refers to herself in the third person. Lana went back to school, earned her high school diploma and went to college, earning a degree in psychology. Afterwards, Lu enlisted her to consult for her women's group, as volunteer work towards her Master's degree. She was maid of honor at Lu's wedding.

Kayla Thornton

(Tamera Mowry) A new doctor and young medical prodigy, Thornton is a fast study at Rittenhouse, entering residency in the beginning of the 2004-2005 season and becoming a depended-upon ER regular by the end of that season, despite occasional disbelief by patients that she is a qualified doctor. As she becomes a main character to the show, her personality can be compared to that of a young Dr. Delgado with her ambition and hard work. She decided to become a doctor as a young girl when a brother was shot in the chest by a friend when playing with a hunting rifle. While the friend ran for help, Kayla cradled her dying brother. The nearest doctor was 25 miles away, so therefore Kayla's brother died in her arms. She then decided to become a doctor.Fact|date=June 2007

Throughout the medical drama's seasons, Thornton rooms with various fellow staff members in her search for affordable housing. First she moves into Dr. Campbell's house, where she spends some of her time helping with Andy's two daughters. After Andy's departure, she rooms with Lana, and later with Peter, with whom she has a budding relationship. She was later on selected as Chief Resident after narrowly missing it due to a complex emergency house call. We find out that she has a twin sister, Keisha (played by real-life twin sister Tia Mowry) who ends up needing 24-hour care for a schizophrenic mental disorder, because she felt that Kayla always had a perfect life and had a depression when they were younger.

Jonas Rey

(Nestor Carbonell) A local self-made billionaire with a good heart but a large soulless corporation. He first appeared on Rittenhouse when his mother was brought to ER due an accident. While his mother was in the hospital, he saw Lu interacting with several of her patients. Even before he exchanged a single word with Lu, he told his mother he'll marry her.

He met and pursued Lu until she agreed to date him. They got married in the middle of the 2005-2006 season. After personally bringing sick South American children to Rittenhouse for treatment, Jonas is plagued by an embezzlement scandal at his company, bringing his fortune and stability into doubt. After discovering that Lana had stock of his company, he decided to sell most of his assets and pay the shareholders back a part of their money. He and Lu moved to his childhood home, but while he was showing it to Lu, they were affected by an explosion and got caught in the ruined basement. Lu convinced him to perform an emergency C-Section to save her and the baby, but she fainted during the procedure. Luckily, Dylan arrives to deliver their daughter.

Former characters

Dr. Dana Stowe

(Janine Turner), an ambitious doctor and scientist seeking a cure for breast cancer; she is rigid and stoic, but cares deeply about her patients. Like her successor Andy Campbell, she was good friends with Jackson. She had a short-lived relationship with resident doctor Nick Biancavilla, which she broke up when he wasn't willing to have children.

Her character left the show at the end of the 2001-2002 season after adopting two challenged children (an HIV-positive infant and her older sister), choosing to put her medical ambitions aside to pursue a successful motherhood. [cite episode | title = Discharged | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 3 | number = 6]

Dr. Andy Campbell

(Patricia Richardson) A former military doctor with the rank of Colonel, Campbell came on the staff during the third season [cite episode | title = Admissions | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 3 | number = 7] to replace the much more ambitious and strict Dr. Dana Stowe. Her patients tend to be upper-middle-class, and often include minor local celebrities and professionals. Her character ostensibly lives the almost typical suburban nuclear family lifestyle, aside from her status as breadwinner. She has two teenage daughters, Jesse and Lizzie.

Campbell kicked out her husband, Leslie, after he hit her during a domestic dispute, forcing her to examine domestic abuse issues as well as single motherhood. Campbell and Leslie had been married for thirty years without any violence in the home, and Leslie is presented as changing from a loving husband to a violent maniac over the course of a single episode. She later becomes involved with another doctor, cardiac surgeon Dr. Milo Morton but he dies in a car accident [cite episode | title = Fractured | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 5 | number = 5] (a development forced by the death of actor Richard Biggs due to an undiagnosed heart condition).

Campbell was named United States Surgeon General (which was also a stated ambition of her predecessor) at the end of the fifth season and left the show. [cite episode | title = Cutting the Cord | series = Strong Medicine | serieslink = Strong Medicine | season = 5 | number = 22]

Dr. Robert "Bob" Jackson

(Philip Casnoff) Chief of staff of Rittenhouse Hospital, he is the stoic, administrative figure and also ultimately in charge of decisions regarding funding, especially to the women's clinic. Jackson had once been a top surgeon but when a young girl died during surgery due to a mislabeled drug doseage, Jackson lost his nerve for the operating room and moved to administration. Jackson considers himself a personal friend of Dr. Campbell (as he was with Dr. Stowe), but generally is more impersonal and sometimes butts heads with Dr. Delgado over financial or liability issues, and with Lana over administrative issues. He was married with two daughters, Lauren and Paige. A recurring subplot throughout the series was Jackson dealing with his beloved wife Susan's advancing MS condition. He even briefly left her, unable to watch her succumb to the illness, but eventually went back to her. Jackson's character was laid off by hospital owner Octavian prior to the start of the sixth season.

Dr. Nick Biancavilla

(Brennan Elliott), an ER doctor at Rittenhouse who had a brief relationship with Dr. Stowe. He has four older sisters, one of them (Francine 'Frankie' Biancavilla) a lesbian whose girlfriend he married to get her the medical care she needed. It didn't work because Dr. Jackson found out, but he gave his sister a medical plan as "wedding gift" that covered existing illnesses. She promised she'd pay it herself once she got promoted. He left at the end of season 4 when he transferred to Manhattan General.

Marc Delgado

(Chris Marquette), Lu's teenage son, whom she had when she was a teenager. He lived with his mother, but saw his father Bill (who was married with young twin girls) regularly. He once saved his great-grandmother Isabel Santana's life with a bone marrow transplant. He left for college in the middle of season 5, after graduating one year in advance but returned once for Lu's wedding, and walked her to the altar.


eason 1 (2000-2001)

eason 2 (2001-2002)

DVD Release

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released Strong Medicine: The Complete First Season, a 5-disc set, on 10 January 2006. It is unknown if the remaining 5 seasons will be released at some point.

"First Response" spinoff

Near the end of the 2004-2005 season, a special episode "First Response" aired, prominently featuring three new characters: Katie and Zack, both EMTs, and Dr. Vanessa Burke, head of the new Rittenhouse Trauma Center and adopted black sister of Katie. The TV Home website reports that this episode was meant as the pilot to a potential "Strong Medicine" spinoff series, "Strong Medicine: First Response". Such a series would have been the first spin-off to an existing Lifetime original series. Lifetime did not order the new series into production after the ratings for the pilot were not what was expected.


External links

* [] Official Sony Pictures Strong Medicine site
* [ "Strong Medicine"] at Lifetime

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