"Dealing with the exit of two longtime cast members and the addition of two new ones, and having dealt with the pandemic and its effect on our hospital, we look at season 7 thematically as a new beginning," executive producer and co-showrunner Diane Frolov told ET over email.
Frolov and co-showrunner Andrew Schneider promised, however, that both DeVitto and DaCosta's absences will "absolutely" be addressed in Wednesday's season 7 premiere. DeVitto's Natalie Manning ended last season coming clean about stealing medication to treat her sick mom (after Will Halstead got fired for taking the fall for her), while DaCosta's April Sexton confessed to her on-again/off-again beau, Ethan Choi, that she was still in love with him.
"We had to make sure that their arcs last season set them both up for surprising but understandable departures from the show," Frolov said of the challenges in wrapping up their arcs in a satisfying way. "We also had to set up that the characters they were closest to -- Will, Crockett and Ethan -- were emotionally poised to rebuild their lives after Natalie and April had left."
Though Frolov and Schneider didn't delve into details surrounding the context in which Natalie and April leave Med, they spoke broadly about how their exits will impact other characters at the hospital.
"Ethan misses April and will always have feelings for her, but that won't impede him from having strong romantic relationships in the future," Schneider suggested following April's surprising "I love you" admission.
And regarding Will's unclear future now that he's technically no longer employed at the hospital, Frolov hinted that he "won't be unemployed for long." "He comes back to Chicago Med in the season 7 premiere, and under very trying circumstances," she teased.
As Med begins a new chapter, they will be attempting to fill the void left by DeVitto and DaCosta with several intriguing new characters played by Steven Weber, who was promoted to series regular, as veteran ER physician and Choi's former Navy mentor, Dr. Dean Archer; Guy Lockard as police officer-turned-doctor Dr. Dylan Scott; and Kristen Hager, who plays new attending Dr. Stevie Hammer.
"Steven Weber's Dr. Archer is a difficult guy who hates to be challenged, but he's still a first-rate surgeon. Guy's Dr. Scott was a police officer before he was a doctor and still has strong ties to law enforcement (including CPD!). Kristen's Dr. Hammer is a young woman who fought hard to overcome a difficult childhood to become the person she is today," Schneider previewed.
Even with significant changes in front of the camera, the producers are optimistic that the new season of Med is the turning of a new leaf.
"We would describe season 7 as a new beginning," Frolov reiterated. "And our hope is that the viewers find it just as entertaining, provocative and emotionally engaging as before."
Chicago Medreturns Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. For more, watch below.