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American Airlines, Hyatt offer free vacations to thousands of New York City healthcare workers

American Airlines, Hyatt offer free vacations to thousands of New York City healthcare workers
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American Airlines and the Hyatt Hotels Corporation on Friday announced a partnership to offer free vacations to thousands of New York City health care employees working on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.

The companies said in a joint statement that more than 4,000 workers employed at the NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst would be treated to roundtrip vacations to destinations across the U.S. and the Caribbean once they are able to “take time for themselves.” Hyatt will provide free hotel accommodations once they arrive. 

Doctors, physician assistants and nurses, as well as facilities and food service teams, are among the workers that will receive the complimentary trips, the companies said.

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“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, Vice President of NYC Health + Hospitals and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, said. “Our doctors, nurses, and other staff on the front lines of this unprecedented health care crisis really appreciate the outpouring of support.”

The New York metropolitan area has emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. As of Saturday, the New York City health department had reported more than 177,000 COVID-19 cases and 14,482 confirmed deaths.

The state of New York has reported more than 333,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 21,000 deaths.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, which serves an area of nearly 1 million people, is one of the health centers most severely impacted by the outbreak. The facility increased its intensive care unit capacity by 500 percent at the outset of the crisis. 

“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 statement. “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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The announcement comes as the coronavirus outbreak tests the capacity of hospitals around the U.S., causing shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators. It's led to persistent fears about the safety of nurses and other employees treating coronavirus patients. 

On Saturday, the NYC Health + Hospitals in Elmhurst announced that a nurse, Erwin Lambrento, had died, according to PIX 11

"As we continue to respond to this unprecedented global public health crisis, we remain forever grateful for his service on the front lines," a spokesperson for the hospital said.