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New York State of Mind: Intermountain volunteers travel to help health care workers

Fifty Intermountain Healthcare volunteers traveled to New York City to assist under-staffed health care workers earlier this year. Now, Utah hospitals are finding their own staffs stretched thin. (PHOTO: John Wojcik, KSL Newsradio)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Volunteers from Intermountain Healthcare are off to the Big Apple to help under-staffed health care workers on the front line.

100 Intermountain reinforcements

The first team of fifty clinicians including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists and other caregivers is leaving for New York City on Tuesday. They will be followed by another fifty volunteers are leaving within two weeks.

Doctor Dixie Harris, Intermountain critical care physician pulmonologist, is one of the volunteers. She tells the Deseret News that previous training during the HIV epidemic in Atlanta will come in handy.

“During that time, almost every patient I saw died from their virus,” she explains. “This is another virus that’s very severe, it’s killing a high percentage of patients, but not as much as HIV. But it’s really torn up health systems, and we want to go there to help them.”

The front line of defense

The soon-to-arrive reinforcement is a welcome sight for the doctors and nurses of the Empire State.

“This is a time for us to go help them,” says Harris. “They have been working 24/7 for days, so they’re tired. Their immune systems are down. So this is a good time for us to go help them.”

Doctor Paul Krakovitz, Intermountain’s chief medical officer for specialty-based care, says this will provide valuable knowledge for those embarking on the mission.

“We expect that as our teams come back, that they will come back with a lot of firsthand knowledge that will only make our care better for the patients of Utah,” he explains.

Intermountain is sending the clinicians with their own personal protective gear, but they will also receive gear from the New York hospitals. Each team expects to stay for two weeks.

When the volunteers return to Utah they will be checked for symptoms and tested.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States