Northwell nurses returning the favor to Rochester nurses

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Local hospitals are calling in reinforcements as COVID numbers continue to surge in Western New York.

Eight nurses from Northwell Health in New York City arrived in Rochester Saturday afternoon to help. For two weeks, they’ll be caring for COVID patients inside Strong Memorial Hospital. During a media briefing over the weekend, Northwell explained how willing they are to return the favor and help after a team of supporting medical staff from URMC traveled to Northwell Health’s North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in April 2020.

"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,” said Brendan McDermott, one of the eight nurses from Northwell Health.

Leaders from URMC say this is critical help they need to support staffing shortages.

"The two-week time frame that these nurses are with us is critical for us to keep those beds open, add additional beds and get us to a place where we can have lower numbers,” said Karen Keady, chief nursing executive for URMC.

Northwell nurses are part of URMC’s strategy to fill holes in staffing shortages. They’ll be aiding in some of the hospital’s busiest units. Over the weekend, they spent hours learning how Strong operates and what units they’ll be scrubbing into. One of the 18 nurses from URMC who deployed to help Northwell in April of last year for their COVID spike explains her experience.

"I got more out of it than I ever dreamed I would, said Wendy Allen-Thompson, director of emergency nursing at URMC. "I never expected to see them come back and now they’re coming to us, so I just think it’s amazing."

URMC officials said the eight Northwell nurses will be working the next two weeks straight with varying hours and only have one day off before returning home for the holidays.