NYC Health + Hospitals launches website using documentary photos and videos to share stories from the frontline
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, the employees at New York City Health + Hospitals (H+H) stepped up to help their fellow New Yorkers. The Illumination Fund, which launched a partnership to expand H+H’s Arts in Medicine program in 2019, dedicated an additional $500,000 to the newly formed COVID-19 Relief Fund. Half of the new grant was for immediate assistance for staff, including food and supplies as the crisis raged, and half was reserved for mental health needs for staff when the crisis ebbed — a time when they would need mental health support to process the trauma they have experienced during the pandemic.
One of the innovative strategies that H+H developed was a web-based media project that uses visual “storytelling” — documentary-style photos and short videos — along with testimonials from employees throughout the system that acknowledge the challenges and pain while sharing examples of courage and resiliency. While honoring the employees, the project also combats mental health stigma among healthcare providers, raises awareness of helpful resources, and provides opportunities for the public to share messages of appreciation for the employees. At the same time, the project was designed to provide historical documentation about the pandemic’s impact within the public hospitals of New York City.
The new website also features key statistics highlighting what makes NYC Health + Hospitals a national leader in the pandemic response. Additional project components will be rolled over the next year.
NYC Health + Hospitals Launches Website to Honor Its Heroic Workforce’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Site features compelling stories, photos, and videos from employees throughout the system, and key statistics highlighting what makes NYC Health + Hospitals a national leader in the pandemic response.
Dec 15, 2020
NYC Health + Hospitals today launched a website to help preserve the legacy of the system’s heroic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The website, found at nychealthheroes.com, serves as a public platform to recognize the more than 40,000 brave healthcare workers whose dedication is helping thousands of New Yorkers recover from COVID-19 and return home. The site offers an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the workforce’s life-saving efforts, and highlights key patient care and staff support data during the first wave of the pandemic. Additionally, visitors can use interactive tools to show their gratitude and provide support to NYC Health + Hospitals’ health care workers and their families as they continue responding to the pandemic and saving lives.
“It is critical for us to capture the stories and experiences of our heroic hospital workers who made it possible for our system to respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and who continue to help save the lives of thousands of New Yorkers from this terrible virus,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Their sacrifices and fearless passion to fight against a virus we knew little about cannot be overlooked, and this website helps us ensure these stories are known to all New Yorkers and beyond. Additionally, this platform gives the public an opportunity to show their gratitude and support as the city continues to fight this pandemic and moves toward recovery in the years ahead.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered for many generations to come and it’s important for the stories of healthcare workers and the community’s gratitude to have a place to live,” said Senior Vice President and Interim CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst Eric Wei, MD, MBA. “This legacy website is just one way we can extend our appreciation to all those hospital workers who risked their own lives, some isolated from their families for weeks or months, others succumbed to the virus, but 100 percent of them proved their dedication and heroism to all New Yorkers throughout this pandemic.”
The website consists of the following key sections:
- Profiles of Courage: Human interest stories of 25 health care heroes from throughout the City’s public health system, including its skilled-nursing facilities. Each profile offers a closer, more intimate look at the vital role each person played in the City’s pandemic response. Each of these stories represent and reflect the experiences of entire teams a and variety of jobs that were vital to our pandemic response.
- Scenes of a Pandemic: A gripping photo essay and powerful visual narrative of the pandemic as it unfolded in the City’s public health system, from the busy intensive care units and emergency departments, to the pure and tender moments of healthcare heroes caring for patients and supporting each other.
- Inside the Surge: A series of documentary-style videos featuring the heroic work of staff. The first videos of the series feature the experiences of respiratory therapists and the support provided to staff facing emotional and psychological trauma through the system’s Helping Healers Heal program.
- COVID-19 by the Numbers: Data trends, patient volume, PPE use, health care staff support, and other key indicators that made the City’s public health system a leader in pandemic response locally and nationally.
- Join the Conversation: This portion of the website offers visitors an opportunity to write notes of gratitude to the health system’s heroes on a public virtual wall, and share their stories on social media.
NYC Health + Hospitals’ COVID-19 legacy site will also house a dedication page to the fallen heroes of the system.
The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, a major supporter of NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine program, provided funding to support the creation of photography by photographer John Rae and videos by Bronx Documentary Center for this website.
“No one has been harder hit in this pandemic than the healthcare community,” said Laurie M. Tisch, Founder and President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “Gathering and sharing stories is a vital way to honor the dedication and sacrifices of our medical workers. The stories gathered here from New York’s frontline are inspiring, timeless and powerful. We are proud to help NYC Health + Hospitals capture them with photography and video, and provide a forum for patients and their families to add their own stories of this challenging time.”
“New Yorkers are all deeply grateful for our health care workers putting their lives on the line fighting this pandemic for almost a year,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. “In hospitals, residential facilities, patients’ homes, or in the community, their commitment to patient care has gone above and beyond any possible expectation. We thank them for their dedication and look forward to reading more of their stories.”
“The stories of health care heroes from across the NYC Health + Hospitals system have inspired me throughout the pandemic, and now the world will get to hear those stories themselves thanks to this new website. I hope this new digital portal will help NYC Health + Hospitals get the moral and monetary support it needs, both from New Yorkers and from the State and Federal government, as we continue the fight to protect New York City from COVID-19,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Hospitals.
“I applaud NYC Health + Hospitals for creating a platform that recognizes health care workers for their heroism during COVID-19,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “During this national health crisis, these lifesavers showed up every day to provide critical services that saved lives. In the City’s darkest hour this spring, I received calls from many unsung heroes who spoke about their struggles and lack of PPE. We cried on the phone together as New York’s coronavirus rate increased and the death rate reached unimaginable heights. I can never forget their harrowing tales and it is why we must show thanks for their sacrifices. I encourage all New Yorkers to visit this site, share their gratitude, and never forget these incredible individuals.”
“Our nation’s frontline medical workers fought a brave battle this year, working tirelessly to provide thousands of patients with life-saving treatment. As our nation struggled, they stepped forward. We often hear of our frontline healthcare workers as a collective: this website will help to put names to those faces and honor their commitment by sharing their stories. This site is a powerful tool, a time capsule from a moment in American history when our nation’s medical workers stood strong and resilient in the face of enormous challenges. This site will offer the chance for visitors to express their gratitude to those who faced this virus head-on to take care of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones. I thank NYC Health + Hospitals for making this commemorative project a reality,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
The website encourages donations to the healthcare heroes within the NYC Health + Hospitals system. During the peak of the pandemic, NYC Health + Hospitals created a mechanism to receive donations that support employees with meals, child care, mental health services, taxi rides, and more. Those interested in making a donation can do so here.