Lending a Healing Hand in the Wake of COVID-19

April 20, 2020

(CENTENNIAL, COLO.) Whether a nurse or a physician, caregivers are no strangers to serving in a moment’s notice when a patient is in need. On Tuesday, April 21, Centura Health caregivers will board a commercial plane provided by United Airlines at Denver International Airport to help three hard hit communities in New Jersey. These 34 caregivers and one administrative ambassador were assembled from multiple Colorado-based Centura facilities.

The request for support and resources came from St. Joseph Health’s President & CEO, Kevin J. Slavin, who serves as Board Chair of the New Jersey Hospital Association, to Centura Health President & CEO, Peter D. Banko. Slavin and Banko have a rich history of serving in leadership roles for Christian-based health systems, having served together in New Jersey healthcare more than 10 years ago. The urgency for staffing support was shared between these two leaders for three facilities in hard hit areas of New Jersey and coordinated through the Catholic Healthcare Partnership of New Jersey, of which the three hospitals are members. Those sites include:

“We are called to extend our healing ministry to our communities when they need us most and our 21,000 caregivers are rising to today’s challenge, meeting the wholistic needs of individuals and neighborhoods in Colorado and Kansas, and now in New Jersey,” said Peter D. Banko, President & CEO, Centura Health. “The team that has miraculously assembled exemplifies the spirit of the sisters and brothers that came before us, and I know they will respond to the care needs before them with courage, compassion, and love.”

New Jersey has a reported 85,301 positive cases with nearly 7,000 people hospitalized across the State. They have also suffered 4,202 deaths from COVID-19, five times the amount of loss experienced by this State in the 9/11 Attacks. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal recently announced that physicians who are licensed in another country but living in the United States could now apply for a temporary emergency license to practice medicine in New Jersey---the first program of its kind in the country. The region is presently in tremendous need for experienced caregivers to serve temporarily on the frontlines during this pandemic.

Determined to help those caring for the ill in their communities, Centura asked members across their workforce who were presently called off due to low volumes and the postponement of elective surgeries and procedures, if they would serve in this special request. A combination of Registered Nurses with Medical Surgical and Emergency Department experience and an administrator, who will serve as an ambassador, have accepted assignments across these three New Jersey facilities. The facilities are facing staffing challenges amidst the demands that COVID-19 is placing upon their communities. These clinicians will work for a minimum of three weeks, up to four, as a part of each New Jersey facilities’ care team. Centura caregivers will be paid for this deployment and be provided the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) per CDC guidelines, for their assignment.

“This assignment felt right to me. The thought of people struggling and dying alone tugs at my heart; we need nurses who want to be there,” expressed Mara Doyle, RN, Centura Health. “I always pictured myself doing this work and I’ll be there to holding any hand that needs mine.”

Disasters can take many forms. The present pandemic calls upon many professions and communities to help. Centura is grateful to United Airlines for providing free roundtrip travel for this mission. In addition, we want to thank the family members of these dedicated caregivers for their support and sacrifice as these team members share their experience, clinical expertise and compassion with those who need their help. We appreciate you!

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Centura Health connects individuals, families and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and 21,000 of the best hearts and minds in health care. Through our 17 hospitals, two senior living communities, neighborhood health centers, physician practices and clinics, home care and hospice services, and Flight For Life® Colorado, our caregivers make the region’s best health care accessible. We’re on a mission to build flourishing communities and whole person care. We’re Centura Health, and we’re your dedicated health partner for life. For information on Centura Health or any of the facilities in our network, please visit the Centura Health website.

Wendy Forbes

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