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Downstate nurses travel to Rochester and Buffalo to help with the COVID-19 surge

 URMC nurses and other health care providers traveled to Northwell Health in the NYC area in April 2020 to help with the COVID-19 surge
Wendy Allen Thompson/URMC
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URMC nurses and other health care providers traveled to Northwell Health in the NYC area in April 2020 to help with the COVID-19 surge

Nurses from a downstate health system have come to the Rochester and Buffalo areas to help the facilities in Western NY who are dealing with a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Saturday that a team from Long Island-based Northwell Health has been deployed to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester as well as the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo.

The two-week mission comes as the entire state has seen a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

The Northwell team includes 16 clinical professionals and two team leads, which includes intensive care, emergency department and medical surgical nurses.

Officials at the University of Rochester Medical Center said that the deployment of Northwell nurses is the second chapter of a story that began in April 2020, when URMC sent a team of emergency medicine professionals to Northwell when hospitals in the New York City area were overburdened by the first wave of COVID-19.

The deployment to Strong Hospital includes 8 nurses and an administrative support team member to work in some of Strong’s busiest units.

Northwell Chief Nursing Oofficer Maureen White said that her hospital system received a helping hand in April 2020 from other health systems and they want to be mindful to “pay it forward and provide assistance now as others face a renewed assault by the virus.”

Brendan McDermott is a nurse at Northwell, helping out in Rochester for two weeks.

During a media briefing on Sunday he said that nursing is a profession where the people involved really do want to help each other:

“We’re here to help no matter what it is, and especially since the fact that Rochester was able to help us when we were in need, to be able to return that favor, is absolutely what nursing is about and how I personally feel it’s our duty to help one another when we’re in need,” said McDermott.

 Northwell nurses at LaGuardia Airport on their way to Rochester
URMC
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Northwell nurses at LaGuardia Airport on their way to Rochester

Wendy Allen-Thompson is Director of Emergency Nursing at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She said she was glad to help out last year, and grateful nurses from Northwell are helping out now.

“We were there for them, and it was an amazing experience,” said Allen-Thompson. “I got more out of it than I ever dreamed I would. And I never expected to see them come back. And now they’re coming to us, and I just think it’s amazing.”

The Northwell team includes nurses with backgrounds in intensive care, emergency medicine and the medical surgical area.

Karen Keady, Chief Nursing Executive at URMC, said that another bonus to helping out with a COVID surge at each other’s medical facilities is that they hope it’s also a teaching moment, since they have been able to share best practices with each other.

“I think we’re going to learn a lot from these nurses, they had a different COVID experience than we did in New York City than we had upstate,” said Keady. “And I suspect that there will be a lot of picking each other’s brains about, ‘hey, how’d you handle this, when this happened.’ “So I think there’s going to be a lot of great cross-pollination of ideas.”

Copyright 2021 WXXI News. To see more, visit WXXI News.