UCSF health workers at the airport, en route to New York City

Credit: Susan Merrell

Sneha Daya (front), M.D., Sanjay Reddy (center), M.D., and Melvin La (background left), M.D., were among the 20 UCSF Health workers who flew to New York on April 11 to volunteer in the NewYork-Presbyterian hospital system, which has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A team of 20 UC San Francisco health care workers — 12 physicians and eight nurses — left for New York City on April 11 to begin a one month voluntary assignment providing urgently needed health care support for patients in the NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) hospital system.

The UCSF health care workers specialize in critical care, hospital medicine and emergency medicine. They were selected from more than 150 nurses and 50 physicians who volunteered for the assignment.

In recent weeks, New York City has become the country’s epicenter for COVID-19 infections, which has taxed its health care system. As of April 8, 2020, there were 20,474 hospitalized patients with the illness in its hospitals. As of the evening of April 9, there were 2,520 inpatients with COVID-19 at NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals.

San Francisco, by contrast, has had far fewer cases and hospitalizations. As of April 6, there were 90 hospitalized patients in the city. As of April 9, 2020, UCSF Health had 20 hospitalized patients, with an additional 12 patients awaiting results of their tests.

Providing support for NYP is an opportunity for UCSF to advance its public health mission, which NYP shares. NYP is one of the nation’s leading academic healthcare systems, encompassing 10 hospital campuses across the Greater New York area and more than 200 primary and specialty care clinics and medical groups. It is affiliated with two top-ranked medical schools, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine.

In addition to providing health care support, UCSF’s volunteers will have the opportunity to learn from their colleagues and gain experience in responding to a sustained surge from a pandemic. This knowledge would prove useful should San Francisco ultimately experience a surge with COVID-19 or with a future pandemic.

“This is an opportunity for UCSF to support our health care colleagues on the front lines in New York City,” said Josh Adler, M.D., Chief Clinical Officer, UCSF Health. “We remain focused on our patients here in San Francisco, and are very well resourced with health care workers should we face a surge ourselves, even with our volunteers in New York. But our present capacity allows us to extend our public health mission to those who are facing some of the country’s most challenging conditions during this pandemic.”

“We are deeply grateful to UCSF Health and to this remarkable team of doctors and nurses who have selflessly stepped up to help care for our patients,” said Dr. Steven J. Corwin, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian. “Their willingness to set aside their own lives to come to the aid of colleagues across the country is truly extraordinary. We look forward to welcoming them to NewYork-Presbyterian.”