For three harrowing weeks beginning in late March, Elmhurst Hospital Center became known as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Queens as its emergency rooms were overwhelmed with patients suffering from coronavirus. In one 24-hour period, 13 patients died and within days refrigerated trucks were parked outside the facility to handle the dead.
The doctors, nurses, and staff who served on the front-lines and displayed “heroism and humanity” during that dark period were honored with a $100,000 grant from the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative which was founded on behalf of survivors of the Armenian Genocide in gratitude to their saviors.
As Elmhurst Hospital Center passes the seven-month mark of the COVID-19 crisis and plans for the future, the grant will provide assistance to its teams as they focus on community outreach programs, chronic disease education, and other initiatives that will help strengthen the health of the surrounding neighborhoods which include the most ethnically diverse and economically challenged immigrant communities in the country.
“On behalf of all our frontline staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to Aurora for this generous gift that will help us build stronger programs to combat COVID-19 and other special pathogens,” Vice President of NYC Health + Hospitals and CEO of Elmhurst and Queens Hospitals Israel Rocha said.
The grant was presented Monday, Oct. 19, as part of a virtual event broadcast live as part of the “Gratitude in Action” series marking the fifth anniversary of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. An event series that raises funds around the globe to help continue the efforts of the Aurora Prize Laureates and the community of unsung heroes putting themselves at risk to save others.
“When it comes to battling a global pandemic, there are many frontlines and frontline heroes,” Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Co-Founder Noubar Efeyan said. “We pay tribute to the New York City heroes who have fought valiantly to bring health and healing to those battling COVID-19. On behalf of all of us, I extend my appreciation to the health sector heroes at Elmhurst Hospital. We applaud your bravery and your commitment to your patients.”
The origins of Elmhurst Hospital can be traced back to the mid-1800s and an institution known as City Hospital. Built to serve the poor, it was New York’s second-oldest municipal hospital. Today, It serves an area of more than 2.4 million people from 112 countries around the world who have chosen to call Queens home.