When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit New York, nurses from around the country came to New York to fight on the front-lines alongside our healthcare heroes. Now as the pandemic surges in other states, the nurses at Northwell are returning that same support.
Recently Northwell Health sent 12 intensive care and medical-surgical nurses to Michigan-based Henry Ford Health System to help the clinicians as they cared for a rising number of patients in their system suffering from COVID. This staff-sharing initiative occurred as part of a newly formed strategic alliance between the health systems. In addition to staff-sharing, this alliance allows for collaborative emergency planning and an exchange of best practices, all in an effort to strengthen our ability to fight the new coronavirus and support the health and well-being of our communities.
Northwell’s intensive care and medical-surgical nurses are the first to participate in staff-sharing under this alliance, volunteering for the program to share their knowledge, skills, and provide a boost of morale and support to the nurses currently delivering care during a resurgence of COVID-19.
Fritz-Gerald Lochard, executive program director with the HR Office of the Chief People Officer, first saw the benefits of staff-sharing when he became directly involved with the clinicians who came to support our health system last spring from University of Rochester Medical Center and Intermountain Health in Utah. When he was offered the opportunity to lead the group of nurses on deployment to Michigan, he accepted immediately.
“I felt it was my duty to ensure that our Northwell nurses would have everything they needed while they were leaving their own families behind for a couple of weeks to help save lives,” says Fritz-Gerald. “The entire experience for me personally was a remarkable one for a number of reasons. The individuals at Henry Ford were spectacular and made sure that the nurses and myself had everything we needed to be successful while we were there. The administrative team and staff we all encountered were welcoming and supportive.”
The importance of strategic alliances has only become more apparent throughout the pandemic. As the disease spread, many health systems were severely impacted by staff shortages to support their clinical needs. Staff-sharing not only provides a way to increase staffing in a crisis quickly and efficiently, but provides vital knowledge sharing in an unprecedented time and a boost of morale for both teams.
“Deploying to Henry Ford Health System was extremely rewarding,” says Gina Zinzi, BSN, RN-BC, an ICU nurse at Northern Westchester Hospital. “It felt great to assist a fellow healthcare team who needed an extra set of hands. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
“I was so excited to be asked to go to Michigan and help out fellow nurses, knowing how much it meant to my ICU when we had nurses from out of state volunteer to come help us,” says Marisa Allen, a registered nurse in Interventional Radiology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center who was asked to deploy due to her ICU background. “The staff at Henry Ford Hospital was so welcoming and it was a great experience getting to work at their facility.”
To Fritz-Gerald, strategic alliances like this only serve as proof that our organization is willing to exhaust all options to ensure those on the front-lines had the support they needed day in and day out. “I think in the environment that we are in now with COVID, it can only assist us in how we deliver care to our respective communities while making our organizations innovative and agile,” says Fritz-Gerald. “I truly learned a lot and I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to visit another health system to take it!”
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