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What's Happened to S. Epatha Merkerson's Character Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med?

The inimitable Director of Patient and Medical Services keeps everything together at Gaffney Med.

By Jessica White

It takes a legion of dedicated physicians for any hospital to operate smoothly, and Gaffney Medical Center's Sharon Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) runs a tight ship on Chicago Med.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 10 premiere of Chicago Med on Wednesday, September 25 at 8/7c on NBC

As the Director of Patient and Medical Services, Goodwin never abuses her power and navigates every roadblock with finesse, all while connecting to patients within every unit of her hospital. And, she isn't just the titan of Chicago Med: She's also a One Chicago crossover queen, appearing on both Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. 

RELATED: Chicago Med Season 9: Everything to Know

Whenever a doctor or a nurse gets into a mess, it's Goodwin who swoops in to provide the cherished counsel they need. 

Who is Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med?

Goodwin, who has appeared on every season since the show's 2015 premiere, is the Director of Patient and Medical Services at Gaffney.

She gave a rousing speech for the opening of Gaffney's new emergency department in the first episode, alongside then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But, before too many celebrations could commence, news of a nearby L train crash launched the hospital staff into action as victims flooded into the E.R. 

From the get-go, Goodwin was defined by her compassion and impeccable ability to balance her administrative duties with patient care and consultation.She tackles any issue with an open-mind and respect, while never failing to stand her ground when needed when nurses or doctors cross the line. 

She also excels at handling the sociopolitical pressures of running Chicago's largest hospital while never tossing empathy aside.

Sharon Goodwin smiles in Chicago Med Episode 902.

What's happened with Sharon Goodwin's ex-husband, Bert Goodwin, on Chicago Med?

Goodwin started the series married to her husband of 35 years, Herbert "Bert" Goodwin (Gregory Alan Williams), with whom she'd raised three children. Near the end of Season 1, Bert left their marriage, blindsiding his wife. 

Viewers met Bert for the first time in Season 2, Episode 19 ("Ctrl Alt") when he showed up at the E.R. with his new girlfriend, Lyla Dempsey (Garcelle Beauvais). She needed treatment for a degenerative medical condition about which Bert was then unaware, and the encounter was awkward for all parties involved. In Season 3, Episode 7 ("Over Troubled Water"), Lyla passed away from complications of her illness. Plagued by grief, Bert attempted suicide in Season 3, Episode 20 ("The Tipping Point"), but fortunately recovered — albeit after Goodwin lectured him about what it would do to their children. 

In Season 5 of Chicago Med, a family friend coordinated a romantic reunion between the exes, and Goodwin and Bert started to toy around with the idea getting back together. But after a few dates and productive conversations, they ultimately decided to remain divorced but amicable companions. 

In Season 9, Episode 4 ("These Are Not the Droids You Are Looking For"), Bert became a patient again after the couple's adult daughter noticed he was becoming more easily confused, forgetful, and accident-prone. After a check-up, Goodwin and Dr. Charles (Oliver Platt) deduced that Bert's memory loss issues could be early symptoms of Alzheimer's. Goodwin encouraged Bert to get more testing done, and he eventually agreed after some initial hesitancy.

RELATED: Sharon Goodwin’s Ex-Husband Bert Gets a Dreaded Diagnosis on Chicago Med

In Season 9, Episode 6 ("I Told Myself That I Was Done With You"), Bert was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Goodwin took on the brunt of Bert's care while navigating his newfound diagnosis, but it was a challenging set-up after Bert lashed out at the caregiver she hired. Eventually, Goodwin was forced to admit she didn't have the time or resources to care for Bert the way he deserved.

In the Season 9 finale, Goodwin and her family found a reliable hospice center that would cater to all of Bert's needs. It was an emotional decision that led Goodwin to break down, but she was confident it was the right choice for her ex-husband. 

Bert and Sharon Goodwin talk to each other on Chicago Med Episode 905

What's happened between Sharon Goodwin and Dr. Dennis Washington on Chicago Med?

After years of riding solo, Goodwin finally started exploring new romantic horizons in Season 9 of Chicago Med, dating Gaffney Oncology Chief, Dr. Dennis Washington (John Earl Jelks). The reveal was a bit of a surprise to Chi-Hards after Washington stopped by Goodwin's office to drop off her missing ID badge in Season 9, Episode 3 ("What Happens in the Dark Always Comes to Light"). Washington told her she'd left at his house the night before — confirming a hook-up. 

After discussing the hush-hush nature of their relationship, Goodwin and Washington shared a steamy kiss. Goodwin initially wished to keep their relationship hidden from their coworkers, but the two took baby steps toward going public and eventually reported to Dr. Charles that things were going well.

The couple hit their first relationship roadblock after Bert's Alzheimer's diagnosis, but Washington met the her family in Season 9, Episode 9 ("Spin A Yarn, Get Stuck In Your Own String") during a joint birthday party between Goodwin and her grandson. The festivities began smoothly but, after Bert forgot that he and Goodwin were divorced and tried sending Washington on his way for the night, it was a heartbreaking end to the party as Bert suffered a mental breakdown.

Despite this family drama, Washington was empathetic toward Goodwin's struggle to care for her ex-husband. She was quickly swept up in her new responsibilities, but Washington eagerly reminded her that she didn't have to weather the storm alone.

In the Season 9 finale of Med, after Goodwin admitted Bert to hospice care, Washington was there to hold and comfort her as she processed the events.

Dr. Dennis Washington (John Earl Jelks) appears in Season 9 Episode 3 of Chicago Med

Does Sharon Goodwin have kids on Chicago Med?

Goodwin and her ex-husband had three kids before they ultimately separated: Michael (Hampton Fluker), Tara (Nicolette Robinson), and David, who remains unseen on the show as of Season 9. 

Michael's first screen time with his mother was in Season 5, Episode 18 ("In the Name of Love"), after he asked get dinner with her around the same time she was briefly seeing Bert again. Michael became frustrated when Bert showed up at the restaurant, and said he was confused by his mother's willingness to take his father back. Goodwin confessed that the downfall of their marriage wasn't one-sided, and Michael eventually reconciled with Bert.

Michael also worked at Gaffney for a brief time as a clinical device specialist in Seasons 5-6, but his time at the hospital ended after he began upselling equipment during operations and prioritizing medical tech sales over patient care. In Season 6, Episode 11 ("Letting Go Only to Come Together"), Michael left the hospital. 

Chi-Hards first met Goodwin's daughter Tara in Season 7, Episode 18 ("Judge Not, For You Will Be Judged") when she stopped by the hospital to pay her mom and family friend Dr. Charles a visit before being admitted due to fibroid complications in her pregnancy. Tara made another appearance in the Season 7 finale ("And Now We Come to the End") when she gave birth to Goodwin's grandson, Isaiah. 

Tara was also the first person to raise concerns over Bert's health in Season 9, Episode 4 ("These Are Not the Droids You Are Looking For").

Sharon and Bert Goodwin on Chicago Med Episode 904

What is Sharon Goodwin's relationship with Dr. Daniel Charles on Chicago Med?

Another one of Goodwin's best friends is Dr. Charles, a fellow long-timer at Gaffney Medical Center. Goodwin and Dr. Charles have worked together for decades, leading their families to become very close over time. 

Goodwin found herself relying on her friend's help in Season 9 of Chicago Med after she discovered Bert's new health issues. As one of Bert's old friends, Dr. Charles was the one to examine him and encourage treatment. As Goodwin struggled to balance dating for the first time in a while with her ex-husband suddenly back in her life, Dr. Charles' support proved to be precious. 

RELATED: Sharon Goodwin Has a New Lover on Chicago Med — And He Works at the Hospital

"Charles and Goodwin have been friends for some 40 years," Merkerson told TV Insider. "She’s known all of his exes, and he’s only known Bert. So I think that because they have this friendship, Charles would be the first person that she would call for help because they always had a good relationship, Bert Goodwin and Daniel Charles."

Dr. Daniel Charles talks to Sharon Goodwin in the hospital on Chicago Med Episode 905

What is the relationship between Sharon Goodwin and charge nurse Maggie Campbell?

When Goodwin needs a friend, she has always had Maggie Lockwood (Marlyne Barrett). The two had been friends for many years before the show began, partly due to their shared backgrounds: Goodwin was an ED Charge Nurse for years before shifting her focus to hospital administration.

Goodwin empathizes with Maggie on a level few Med characters can, and Maggie is always there to listen when Goodwin's business goes haywire. 

After Maggie learned she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the Season 5 premiere ("Never Going Back to Normal "), it was Goodwin who comforted her and provided kindhearted counsel during Maggie's extensive chemotherapy treatments. Maggie luckily went into remission, and Goodwin was there to celebrate. And viewers learned that, if Maggie's cancer were to return — as they feared it might have in Season 9 of Med — Goodwin promised she would be there to navigate the next steps. 

In Season 8 of Chicago MedMaggie considered leaving Gaffney after one of its now-former owners began enforcing drastic and dramatic changes around the hospital of which she disapproved. Luckily, Maggie ended up sticking around after some ownership changes, and she and her bestie have continued to be One Chicago's ultimate friendship. 

Sharon Goodwin and Maggie Lockwood on Chicago Med episode 519

What was the conflict between Sharon Goodwin and COO Gwen Garrett on Chicago Med?

One of Chicago Med's biggest baddies was now-former Chief Operating Officer Gwen Garrett (Heather Headley). Garrett made her first bristly impression in the Season 3 finale ("The Tipping Point") but would give Goodwin headaches until Season 6.

RELATED: Epatha Merkerson on Sharon Goodwin's Love Life

From the moment Garrett introduced herself to Goodwin, it was clear she was a businesswoman first and foremost. Garrett's ruthless financial-interests-first approach to running the hospital often landed her in arguments with Goodwin, who prioritized patient welfare above all. Garrett was dangerous for Gaffney because she never shied away from manipulating others to get her desired outcome and loved any opportunity for a payday. 

Garrett's final Med appearance was in Season 6, Episode 11 ("Letting Go Only to Come Together").

Sharon Goodwin and Gwen Garrett on Chicago Med Episode 611

S. Epatha Merkenson raises awareness of diabetes through Sharon Goodwin

Sharon Goodwin stands with her arms crossed on Chicago Med Episode 905

Merkerson is a vocal advocate for those diagnosed with diabetes after being diagnosed herself in 2003, according to Clover Health. To shine a light on the ailment, Merkerson insisted that her condition be incorporated into her Chicago Med character. 

Goodwin has spoken about her condition several times on the show but, in Season 7 of Chicago Med, her diagnosis ended up complicating her duties at Gaffney. As the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head in Chicago, the Head of Patient and Medical Services was forced to orchestrate the chaotic tasks of running Gaffney from home. The plotline echoed Merkerson's need to film virtually.

"I’m in that group of people who have comorbidities," Merkerson told Blavity in 2021. "I’m over 65, and I’m diabetic, so my producers worked something out for me...”

“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," she continued. "I think whenever you have the opportunity to voice something like that, it’s a public service to the community.”

Watch Chicago Med on NBC and Peacock.

Originally published Mar 31, 2024.