Chicago Med is back!

The high-octane drama will return for its seventh season to cover more chaos of the day-to-day life of the doctors, nurses, and staff who work to hold it all together at the city’s newest state-of-the-art trauma center. 

Ahead of the return of the show, S&A spoke with series star S. Epatha Merkerson. The veteran actress, who portrays Gaffney Chicago Medical Center head, Sharon Goodwin. Despite a lack of funding, Goodwin manages to hold down the bottom line at the hospital. Merkerson, no stranger to a Dick Wolf production, made history with her 17-season run as Lt. Anita Van Buren on NBC’s Law & Order.

“With a Dick Wolf show you can always count on the storylines being really fascinating,” Merkerson explained. “What I always say about our shows, and that goes for any Dick Wolf show, is that you sit down to be entertained, but you stand up and you’ve learned something.”

This season fans of the show will certainly learn something through Merkerson’s character, especially when it comes to Black people and type 2 diabetes. Sharon Goodwin is art imitating life for Merkerson, who has been vocal about her diagnosis with the disease. Now she hopes to encourage others to have open conversations about ways to cope with the disease and prevent it with healthier lifestyles.

“I come from a family where [type 2 diabetes] was never discussed,” shared Merkerson who reveals that her father passed away at age 57 from diabetic complications. “It’s important for me as an African American to speak on something that allows me to reach other people. To bring the disease up in the show through my character allows us to see firsthand what people go through when they have type 2 diabetes. I think whenever you have the opportunity to voice something like that, it’s a public service to the community.”

Not only is Merkerson excited for fans to see the new season, but the award-winning actress returned to the set after having the opportunity to shoot virtually during the last season in the midst of the pandemic.

“I’m in that group of people who have comorbidities. I’m over 65 and I’m diabetic so my producers worked something out for me” she continued. “I shot from home for the entirety of last season, but this season I was only supposed to film four episodes from here. The great part is that it was comfortable for me, but the negative part is that I felt really isolated. After three episodes of filming at home, I asked to return to the set now that everyone is accustomed to the new protocols that are in place.”

She further explains the joy that comes from being surrounded by her castmates.

“There’s nothing like being around all the people. We promote one Chicago, one family, one night and there’s so much truth in that,” said Merkerson.

As a legendary actress, Merkerson wants to continue to do work that matters.

“My dream is to continue to work and to do good work,” Merkerson concluded. “When I started out, I just wanted to be an actor, a good actor, and a working actor and that’s what I’ve achieved. I want to continue to do that. I really appreciate the shows that we’re doing in the Wolf world and how they all sort of connect.”

Chicago Med returns to NBC on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET.