Northwell sends nurses to western New York to combat COVID-19 surge

Brandon Duffy
Northwell Health sent professionals to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo and the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester to combat COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

Northwell Health, the state’s largest health system, has sent a team of nurses to western New York to help combat a surge in COVID-19 cases.

On Saturday, 16 clinical professionals and two team leads were deployed to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo and the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Among the employees sent were intensive care, emergency department and medical-surgeon nurses. The health care network said the group will be there for two weeks. 

Northwell CEO and President Michael Dowling said the move was made because of a shortage of available workers in the hospitals.

“We offered to send nurses there after hearing about a staffing crunch in the region and seeing COVID-19 cases peaking there,” he said  in a news release. “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 will continue to do so. We remember when the pandemic hit us hardest and we were at our worst.”

According to multiple reports, Tom Quatroche, CEO of Erie County Medical Center, said the  573-bed hospital is dealing with extremely high patient volumes. 

Northwell is returning the favor to the University of Rochester after it sent medical help during the pandemic’s first wave in 2020. Along with the help sent to western New York, Northwell has sent medical teams to Michigan, Ecuador, Barbados and Guyana to combat COVID-19.

Maureen White, Northwell’s executive vice president and chief nurse executive, said Northwell officials haven’t forgotten the help they received.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Brenan McDermott, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, is one of the professionals deployed to Rochester. He said it is his duty to help those in need during trying times. 

“Being a nurse, I know the importance of helping those in need,” he said. “Whether it be the patient, family or staff in need of a hand, it is our responsibility to help. When NYC was at its worst, others came to help and support us. I am honored and proud to return the favor.”

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