‘Doctors on Call’ to Celebrate 500th Episode

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – One West Virginia television show has been on the air as long as Bonanza and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet were, longer than M*A*S*H, Cheers, Fraser and Dallas were. It will celebrate its 500th episode Thursday, Nov. 9.

“Doctors on Call,” produced by West Virginia University and West Virginia Public Broadcasting, will air its 500th episode at 8 p.m. on West Virginia Public Television, featuring special guest West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III.

Nearly 14 years have passed since the first episode aired on West Virginia Public Television. Since then, thousands of West Virginia viewers have telephoned the popular talk show to seek health care advice from WVU experts.

“In the past 14 years, we have reached people all over the state with solid health information,” said Robert M. D’Alessandri, M.D., vice president for health sciences at WVU. “It’s not just the people who call who get answers – it’s everyone else who is watching out there. This kind of show is an ideal partnership between a University and a public television network. We’re both bringing expertise to the project, and both serving our educational purpose.”

The show covers important health topics such as cancer, children’s health, smoking cessation, asthma, allergies, heart problems, diabetes and nutrition. Some of the brightest medical minds in West Virginia are featured as guests on the show. Telephone lines are busy throughout every show with questions from callers from all 55 West Virginia counties and surrounding states.

“When we started ‘Doctors on Call’ we were in the same Thursday, 8 p.m. must-see-TV time slot we have now,” said Amy Johns, DOC producer and manager of broadcast media at WVU health sciences.. “We were up against the original ‘Cosby Show’, then ‘The Simpsons’ and then ‘Friends.’ Those shows have all come and gone, and we’re still helping West Virginians live longer, healthier lives.”

While the set has changed over the years, the format has remained the same. Each week, two medical experts answer viewers’ questions on various health-related topics during the live, statewide broadcast. Designed to serve and educate West Virginians and encourage a healthier lifestyle, the show focuses on wellness and self-care. Dr. Robert D’Alessandri has served as the primary host since the show began in 1993.  Other WVU physicians currently serving as host include Bill Ramsey, M.D., Kathy Moffett, M.D., Charlotte Dillis, M.D., Mary Warden, M.D., and Rolly Sullivan, M.D.

“Our previous guests have included former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise and U.S. Senator John Rockefeller, as well as hundreds of WVU faculty members – many who had never been on TV before,” Johns said. “Some did so well, we made them guest hosts.”

In 1995, “Doctors on Call” won the National Award for Excellence from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Appearing with Governor Manchin will be John E. Prescott, M.D., dean of the WVU School of Medicine, to discuss particular health issues affecting West Virginia.

The program is made possible with major support from Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma. Other underwriters include The Health Plan, HealthSouth Mountainview Rehabilitation Hospital, and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education.

- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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