Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday announced Northwell Health, New York state's largest health system, has dispatched a team of skilled nurses to Western New York to answer the call for more medical personnel to help a region overburdened with a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Northwell team of 16 clinical professionals and two team leads, which includes intensive care, emergency department and medical-surgical nurses, were deployed to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo and the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
The two-week mission comes as the entire state sees a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
"Fighting the winter surge requires a statewide team effort from partners across New York state," Hochul said. "I want to thank Northwell Health for answering the call to action and partnering with us to send a team of extraordinarily skilled nurses that will boost hospital capacity and help us bring the numbers down in Western New York."
Northwell employees nearly 19,000 nurses at its 22 hospitals and more than 800 outpatient facilities, including the team of nurses who volunteered for the mission to New York's latest COVID-19 hotspot. The health system will continue to track patient volume and staffing needs internally as it extends help elsewhere.
Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "As we approach the holidays, we'll need community-minded solutions and cooperation with partners like Northwell Health to respond to the rise in COVID-19. We are so much stronger when we work together, so we thank Northwell for sending staff support from downstate to Western New York. We have the tools – and resources – we need to prevent infection. Vaccination protects you and wearing a mask is how we protect each other."
President and CEO of Northwell Health Michael Dowling said, "We offered to send nurses there after hearing about a staffing crunch in the region and seeing COVID-19 cases peaking there. While COVID cases downstate have increased, they are nowhere near the burden currently faced by health systems elsewhere in New York. There's a natural collaboration among health care organizations. In this time of crisis, we have the ability to help and so will continue to do so. We remember when the pandemic hit us hardest and we were at our worst."
Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., Ph.D., president and CEO of Erie County Medical Center, said, "We are thankful to Gov. Hochul and Northwell Health for coordinating this effort to assist ECMC while we experience extremely high patient volumes and continue to address our staffing shortages. This is an example of how we can all collaborate to provide lifesaving patient care."
Northwell Chief Nursing Officer Maureen White, R.N., said, "New York City and Long Island were overrun with COVID cases in March 2020. It was an ordeal the frontline team at Northwell – and all New Yorkers – won't soon forget. Our nurses received a helping hand then from other health systems. We want to be mindful to pay it forward and provide assistance now as others face a renewed assault by the virus."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "I thank Gov. Kathy Hochul and Northwell Health for dispatching medical professionals to assist Erie County Medical Center staff, as our region responds to this latest COVID-19 surge. On behalf of all of the residents of the City of Buffalo, I am grateful for the partnership and support from across New York state."
The University of Rochester and Intermountain Healthcare in Utah sent medical help to Northwell during the first coronavirus wave in 2020. Northwell reciprocated by aiding Intermountain during its surge and now gets the chance to repay the University of Rochester in its time of need. Northwell has also deployed medical teams to the Henry Ford System in Michigan during the pandemic, as well as Houston and Puerto Rico after hurricanes devastated those regions.