Ellen Pompeo Dedicates 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 17 to Healthcare Workers

Grey's Anatomy - Season 16 - Publicity Still - H 2019
ABC/Kelsey McNeal

ABC's Grey's Anatomy returned to production Tuesday and star Ellen Pompeo is dedicating the upcoming 17th season to healthcare workers battling the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The actress took to Instagram late Tuesday to share a selfie of herself with new series regular Richard Flood — with both wearing face masks as part of the new on-set safety protocols — and outlined the importance of the season ahead.

"First time back in my scrubs," Pompeo wrote. [S]ince we shut down filming, 7,000 healthcare workers have died from COVID. I dedicate my season 17 to all who have fallen and to everyone of you who by the grace of God is still standing ... this season is for you, with humility and a bit of humor to get us through and endless amounts of gratitude. I hope we do you proud."

Grey's Anatomy
was one of the first shows to shut down production in March amid the global pandemic. Showrunner Krista Vernoff recently revealed that season 17 of the Shonda Rhimes-produced medical drama will write the pandemic into its storylines. She told The Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top 5 podcast that she initially balked at the idea of writing the pandemic into the series but ultimately writers on the veteran drama convinced her otherwise.

"It was really about fatigue," Vernoff said of her initial thought of not incorporating the pandemic into Grey's. "To be the biggest medical show and ignore the biggest medical story of the century felt irresponsible to the medical community," she said. "It just felt like we had to tell this story. The conversation became: How do we tell this painful and brutal story that has hit our medical community so intensely and permanently changed medicine? And create some escapism? And create romance, comedy and joy and fun? That's the challenge this season."

Vernoff, meanwhile, also shared a few photos of what filming Grey's during the pandemic looks like on her own Instagram account. "It's a whole new world at ABC Prospect Studios!" she wrote.

Check out Pompeo's important tribute, below.