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Northwell Health sends nurses to Henry Ford Health System as part of strategic alliance to fight COVID-19

The alliance is designed to enhance crisis preparedness through collaborative COVID-19 planning and the sharing of best practices.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Northwell Health, New York State's largest health system, has sent 12 nurses to Michigan-based Henry Ford Health System to help clinicians there care for a rising number of patients suffering from COVID-19. 

The staff sharing is occurring as part of a newly formed strategic alliance between the two health systems that was created to strengthen their ability to fight the new coronavirus and more effectively support the health of their communities.

The alliance is designed to enhance crisis preparedness through collaborative emergency and COVID-19 planning, and the sharing of best practices. It enables participating organizations to swiftly increase staffing capacity through temporary staff sharing. Institutional requirements are worked through ahead of time to allow faster onboarding and reduce time-to-bedside for reinforcements. 


The move comes at a time when hospitals are increasingly short-staffed due to the demands of caring for COVID-19 patients, who are flooding into healthcare facilities as a fresh surge threatens to buckle the system.

Physician assistant Joseph Moscola, senior vice president and chief people officer at Northwell, said in a statement that the alliance "supercharges" the ability of participating health systems to quickly respond to crises, utilizing lessons learned in the spring, when Northwell treated more coronavirus patients than any other health system in the country.

In the current exchange, which comes in answer to a call for assistance from the 30,000-employee Henry Ford system, Northwell's intensive care and medical-surgical nurses are providing hands-on care at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township.

Northwell and Henry Ford were both recipients of aid in the form of staff-sharing by other organizations during the spring surge of COVID-19. During the summer, as caseloads threatened to rise in Utah, Northwell provided critical care nurses to a hospital there.

The current round of staff-sharing between Northwell and Henry Ford is the first to occur under the alliance and is particularly significant because the ongoing spread of the coronavirus is affecting almost every state, making it more difficult for hard-hit hospitals to find temporary staff from agencies or other healthcare institutions.

The alliance, which may expand in the future to include other organizations around the country, provides a relief valve for participating entities and demonstrates shared values and the ability to collaborate in crisis in order to put patients first, the systems said in a shared statement.


In November, Northwell added real-time bed visibility to its 19 facilities through a partnership with TeleTracking Technologies, a care-coordination support company. The extended agreement centralizes Northwell's operations into one location through TeleTracking's command center. It will give the health system the capability to see all available beds across its network.

Earlier, in October, the health system announced it had developed a predictive tool that can anticipate a spike in COVID-19 cases at its hospitals by mining user data patterns from its website. With the pandemic still raging worldwide, Northwell plans to give away the source code to other health systems.


"There is no doubt that nearly ten months into this pandemic, our nurses are not only combatting the virus but the fatigue that comes with the daily stress of keeping our COVID-19 patients alive and helping them recover," said Robert G. Riney, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer at Henry Ford Health System. "Not only will this provide some welcome relief for our nurses, but it is also a tremendous morale boost to have your colleagues from another hard-hit region support you in this way.

"Everyone here at Henry Ford is grateful for the selflessness and generosity of spirit of these highly trained nurses from Northwell Health," he said. "We stand ready to provide the same support to them should the need arise."

Twitter: @JELagasse
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