Alex Is Probably Staying At Pac North Hospital On Grey’s Anatomy For A While

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
It's not the same at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital without the doctors that Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) fired at the end of season 15. In fact, it's just plain strange to see Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) working at another hospital. Unfortunately, for fans who are already growing restless, prepare to wrestle with this: Alex and Richard's Pac North hospital storyline on Grey's Anatomy could last for a while.
Showrunner Krista Vernoff told TV Guide that she wanted to make sure that Alex and Richard's firings had actual ramifications — unlike many of the brief firings of seasons past.

"I felt like we needed to be authentic to the consequences of the story that we told at the end of last season. I didn't want Bailey's firing of them to be like a bait-and-switch. I wanted to play it through," Vernoff said. "The idea of this other hospital felt like the authentic way to play that story through."
Vernoff also told Entertainment Tonight that she really wants those characters to fully experience what it's like at other hospitals that aren't as highly ranked as Grey Sloan. "They're highly skilled, talented surgeons who are used to working with the best support staff imaginable at a well-funded, great functioning hospital," Vernoff said of Richard and Alex. "Now they find themselves in a really crappy hospital that needs to be turned around. That felt like a real challenge both for the characters and for the actors. It lets them play something new."
The episode descriptions reveal that Alex will still be at Pac North through at least the fourth episode. The synopsis for that one says, "Owen finds himself at Pac-Gen North, which Alex sees as a recruiting opportunity." If Alex is trying to get Owen (or other doctors) to join him at Pac North in episode four, he's likely still in the middle of trying to right the ship over there. Vernoff added to ET that Alex and Richard's Pac North storyline will continue "in the early part of this season," as they "do something that feels unimaginable and unachievable, and yet they're unstoppable because they're so determined in their own way to prove Bailey wrong for firing them."
Don't expect Alex and Richard to leave that job half finished, either. They likely won't consider returning to Grey Sloan until Pac North is running more smoothly. Both characters care a lot about patients, and the patients at Pac North need them. Grey Sloan will be alright without them for a few more episodes.
However, the way Vernoff phrased things does make it sound like there's an end date to this new hospital storyline. Once they have "play[ed] that story through," and it feels natural enough to bring Alex and Richard back to Grey Sloan, that will likely happen. It's clear that Bailey misses her star doctors, and, once Alex shapes up the poorly-rated Pac North, there won't be much of a challenge left for him there. Vernoff revealed to TV Line that she has a Richard-focused episode coming in season 16, and that could be a good time to have his character return to Grey Sloan. It's not known when that episode will be, but it will at least be this season.
Until then, Alex and Richard are dedicated to making Pac North what Grey Sloan has always been — a hospital that gives patients their best chance at survival and teaches doctors how to be great. They're two of the best to tackle such a challenge, and they're stubborn enough to see it through. Once they do, hopefully Bailey and Grey Sloan will welcome them back with open arms.

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