New York City hospital staff surprised with free vacations as thanks for fighting coronavirus

Coronavirus

In a photo provided in American Airlines’ press release, staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst celebrate the surprise.
(AMERICAN AIRLINES)

(CBS) — More than 4,000 staff members at New York City’s hard-hit Elmhurst Hospital have been surprised with a free vacation as thanks for their tireless work fighting the coronavirus pandemic in America’s epicenter.

American Airlines and Hyatt Hotels Corporation teamed up for the gift “in recognition of the extraordinary care” the hospital staff “provide to their community,” according to a press release. The workers, from doctors and nurses to the facilities and food service teams, will receive priority round trip American Airlines flights and hotel accommodations from Hyatt for three nights in “select destinations” in the U.S. and Caribbean, according to the release.

“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,” said Israel Rocha, the Vice President of NYC Health + Hospitals and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, in the release.

“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,” Rocha added.

The hospital’s staff will be able to take advantage of the complimentary travel and hotel accommodations sometime later in the year, “once they are able to take time for themselves,” according to the release.

Elmhurst hospital was one of the first and hardest hit health care providers in New York City. At the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, it had to increase intensive care units by 500%, CBS New York reports.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters Sunday the coronavirus death toll and rate of coronavirus hospitalizations have dropped to the lowest level since the middle of March.

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