NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The medical staff at Saint Peter's University Hospital will be getting some assistance in caring for COVID-19 patients.

A group of 34 caregivers from Colorado arrived today on a commercial flight and will be joining the health care heroes at Saint Peter's and two other hospitals in New Jersey on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Determined to help those caring for the ill in their communities, Centura Health asked members across its workforce who weren’t in active service due to lower volumes of patients there and the postponement of elective surgeries and procedures if they would serve in this special request.

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A combination of registered nurses with medical, surgical and emergency department experience and an administrator, who will serve as an ambassador, have accepted the assignment to help at Saint Peter's, St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth.

The three hospital systems are part of the Catholic Healthcare Partnership of New Jersey and have all witnessed unprecedented volumes of COVID-19 patients in the past several weeks.

"At Saint Peter's, we feel blessed for the help we are receiving from Centura’s selfless healthcare heroes and thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with some of our fellow Catholic hospitals in New Jersey. Our mission truly breathes life into an oft-repeated belief: 'We're all in this together,’” said Leslie D. Hirsch, president and CEO at Saint Peter’s Healthcare System.

“Each Centura Health caregiver has an inner calling to minister where the need is, as we have always done in our 138-year history, and to stand by their fellow heroes to extend hope, healing, and kindness in a most critical time,” said Peter D. Banko, president and CEO, Centura Health.

Through Catholic Healthcare Partnership, participating hospitals were able to submit their requests for Centura staff, who will work for a minimum of three weeks, up to four, as a part of each New Jersey facilities’ care team. Centura caregivers will be paid for this deployment and be provided the proper personal protective equipment per CDC guidelines.

“The selflessness of these healthcare heroes is truly inspiring,” said Sister Patricia Codey, president of CHPNJ. “We are grateful for their courage and assistance and pray for their safety as they serve Catholic Healthcare Partnership of NJ’s hospitals and its patients at this critical time.”

United Airlines quickly responded to the need for additional medical staff, and announced with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy a partnership for the commercial airline to provide flights to transport healthcare workers into the state. This initiative is among the first.

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact New Jersey, home to our Newark hub, we believe it’s essential to support healthcare workers who choose to risk their own lives by joining the frontlines in the state to fight against the virus and offer relief to existing medical workers who have been working tirelessly,” said Jill Kaplan, president of New Jersey/New York for United Airlines.

According to Gary S Horan, president and CEO of Trinitas Regional Medical Center and chair of the partnership, “These professionals from Centura are literally coming to New Jersey at the right time. Six solid weeks of ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients have taken a toll on all our hospitals. This is an excellent example of mission in action.”