Entire NYC Health staff surprised with free vacations for their efforts to combat coronavirus

New York has been the hardest hit state in the coronavirus crisis in the US, which currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. After months of battling the pandemic, New York is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, with cases falling steadily day by day.

Working steadily through dire and extremely stressful conditions, the entire staff of a New York hospital received an unexpected, but totally welcome gift. In a surprise announcement, Hyatt and American Airlines stated that all employees of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst would be receiving free vacations as a reward for all their hard work to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

NYC Health+Hospitals

The most recent tally by Johns Hopkins University indicates that more than 333,000 New York residents had contracted coronavirus, resulting in more than 26,000 deaths. NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, a public hospital in Queens, has seen a fair share of this sad number. The hospital serves about 1 million people per year in a socio-economically diverse area.

The reward benefits more than 4,000 staff of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, including doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and facilities and food service teams. The treat covers free round trip flights for frontline workers on American Airlines to Hyatt hotels in select destinations across the US and Caribbean, which aim “to help them recharge and reconnect with their loved ones.”

Israel Rocha, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, said in a statement, “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. 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.”


With much of the staff in tears, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst celebrated the incentive with a standing ovation and cheers of “Elmhurst Strong!”

In the grip of the pandemic, staff of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst poured all their energy into overcoming an overwhelming number of coronavirus cases. The difficulty of containing a highly contagious and fatal new illness has been has been compounded by a shortage of personal protective equipment and the ventilators necessary to treat patients.

To address the pandemic, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, which can normally accommodate 545 patients, increased the capacity of its Intensive Care Units by 500%.

Working on the frontlines and in the epicenter of the pandemic in the US has been physically and mentally demanding. In addition to working on a seemingly never ending influx of patients, health workers are at significant risk of contracting the virus, and many fear that they may transfer the virus to their family and friends.


When they are finally able to do so, a vacation would certainly be a wonderful opportunity for staff of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst to recover from the strain and anxiety of treating COVID-19 patients.

Hyatt President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian said, “At Hyatt, everything we do is fueled by our purpose of care and when opportunities like this present themselves we are inspired to act. We are humbled by the health care workers’ dedication to saving lives. Now it’s our turn to take care of them like members of our own family, and we look forward to making their stays special when they are able to take a hard-earned break.”

American Airlines President Robert Isom added, “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.”


Throughout the coronavirus crisis, American Airlines and Hyatt have extended care towards colleagues, guests, and the communities they serve.

American Airlines raised more than $3 million to support the American Red Cross and its volunteers, provided supply kits to hospitals, given care packages to military bases, contributed more than 100 tons of food to food banks across the country.

They also produced masks, participated in repatriation flights, and continues to operate flights to serve the COVID-19 effort.

Hyatt hotels have donated meals to local communities and food banks, and offers discounted rates or complimentary accommodations for health care and other essential workers.

The hotel chain announced a Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment to focus on the safety and well-being of colleagues and guests in a COVID-19 world and beyond. The Hyatt Hotels Foundation also developed a Hyatt Care Fund to provide financial relief to global colleagues.

Inspired by the sacrifices and extraordinary care shown by the professionals at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst during this unprecedented crisis, the collaboration between the two corporate giants was simply their way of saying thank you to those who continue to keep us safe.