NY hospital staff surprised with free vacations to thank them for their efforts on the front lines


*Watch our report above to see how the Air Force Reserve thanked local health care workers for their efforts on the front lines.*

(CNN) — Thousands of employees at a hospital in the epicenter of America’s fight against the coronavirus are being rewarded for their hard work.

More than 4,000 hospital staff — including doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and facilities and food service teams — at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst were surprised with a three-night complimentary vacation, Hyatt and American Airlines announced Friday.

The two companies collaborated to treat the frontline workers with free round trip flights on American Airlines to Hyatt hotels in select destinations across the US and Caribbean “to help them recharge and reconnect with their loved ones” once they are able to.

“We are extremely grateful to Hyatt and American Airlines for this generous gift to our health care workers, who have been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Israel Rocha, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, said in a statement.

*Read more stories about the coronavirus pandemic, here.*

“Our doctors, nurses, and other staff on the front lines of this unprecedented health care crisis really appreciate the outpouring of support from two of America’s major companies, and we look forward to taking advantage of these well-earned vacations in the near future.”

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, a public hospital in Queens, serves about 1 million people per year in a socio-economically diverse area.

By Saturday afternoon, more than 333,000 people in New York had contracted coronavirus and more than 26,000 people had died, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.

Since the moment the pandemic took hold of New York City, Elmhurst staff have been working to overcome the staggeringnumber of coronavirus cases. In response to the pandemic, the 545-bed hospital increased its Intensive Care Units’ (ICU) capacity by 500%.

However, severe shortages in personal protective equipment and ventilators have put health care workers at significant risk of contracting the virus. Many have also expressed fear of transferring it to friends and family.

“Every worker at Elmhurst has seen and experienced challenges many of us cannot imagine. They’ve given so much of themselves and chose to serve their community with care, compassion and equity for every patient,” Robert Isom, president of American Airlines, said in a news release.

“When they are able to take a break, we hope the time away will help them and their loved ones recharge and that they feel our deepest appreciation for their sacrifice and heroism.”


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