Northwell nurses headed home for the holidays after helping local hospitals

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Brendan McDermott and Roody Zamore are coming home for Christmas.

The two are part of a team of Northwell Health nurses who came to Western New York to help return the favor in the line of defense against COVID. Back in April 2020, a team of nurses from the University of Rochester was one of the first teams that went downstate to help, as COVID-19 cases were surging.

McDermott and Zamor are eager to return home after spending a two-week deployment to Rochester and Buffalo.

“We’re all very grateful to have the opportunity to be home before Christmas. We all miss our families and are anxious to spend holidays at home but will absolutely miss the experience that we’ve had here with the University of Rochester," McDermott said.

He was stationed in Rochester while his counter, Zamor, was deployed to Buffalo.

“We always had someone available to help us whether it’s with protocols, policy…the staff has really helped us transition and able to make our stay very comfortable,” Zamor said.

Hospital leaders describe the level of relief this extra team of nurses provided, especially as COVID hospitalizations continue. Additionally, as bed capacities were a growing concern, this medical mission helped sustain that.

“They hit the ground running, and it helped us open additional ICU beds and also additional treatment spaces in our emergency department, so they came at the right time when we needed them to get a little bit of relief while our volumes were surging,” said Karen Keady, an RN and chief nursing executive at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “They made a huge difference for us allowing us to increase bed capacity so that we could remain under the 5-10% ability to care for our patients.”

Not only did Strong officials say the Northwell nurses were critical in keeping the ICU and emergency department flowing, but also their overall attitude helped in a time of major need

“They were really a huge infusion of not only great skillset for us but also their positive attitude and their willingness to jump in and help,” Keady added.

There was a total of 16 nurses plus two additional support staff split evenly between Buffalo and Rochester. The Northwell nurses are working their final shift Wednesday and will head home on Thursday, just in time for Christmas.