Northwell honors employees lost to COVID-19 with “Day of Remembrance”

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Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling addresses the families of team members lost to COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

Northwell Health held a Day of Remembrance, a ceremony involving more than 72,000 Northwell employees and honoring the memories and celebrate the lives of the 20 team members who died from COVID-19 in June 25.

Families representing 17 of the 20 Northwell employees who died from the disease attended the memorial service, which included the health system’s color guard and benedictions and prayers from staff clergy.

The three remaining families attended virtually through a livestream connection, which was also made available to facilities across the health system.

Northwell President and CEO Michael Dowling said in his remarks that the pandemic had challenged health system workers “in ways that no public health crisis had ever done before.”

“Today is an opportunity to recall, reflect and remember,” Dowling said. “We remember the extraordinary circumstances we’ve all lived through in the past three months. We recall the heroism, the compassion and the caring of all the staff who did such heroic work and met the challenge. Today, we reflect on all those who we lost to this disease.”

Dowling also spoke directly to the loved ones of the deceased.

“We take this moment to remember the courage and humanity of your loved ones,” Dowling said “Today, we honor their memory with the same strength and courage they displayed as they helped care for others. That was their calling – that’s what made us all so proud of them.”

Michael A. Epstein, chair of Northwell’s Board of Trustees, then recited the names of the deceased. As each name was read aloud, a member of the victim’s family was invited to the stage to place a delphinium, the symbolic flower of remembrance for loved ones who have passed, in a vase.

“Together we mourn the loss of 20 Northwell team members,” Epstein said. “They were so much more than our healthcare heroes. They were cherished members of your families.  We are thankful to their families for the strength they are displaying here today. These 20 people are our heroes.”

The system is supporting the families of deceased team members in numerous ways, including providing each family with $10,000 to cover the cost of funeral expenses, paid time off payout up to 315 hours; and salary payouts for both clinical and non-clinical team members.

The deceased team members came from a variety of geographical and professional areas within the system, ranging from food services to accounts payable to physicians.

“The team members whose loss we mourn and whose lives we celebrate represent the mosaic of people and roles needed to carry out our mission and serve the communities that entrust us with their care,” said Maxine Carrington, Northwell’s deputy chief HR officer. “Your loved ones are a reflection of all of us – the 72,000 team members who make up the Northwell community. We see ourselves in them and are truly grateful for their contributions and sacrifice on behalf of the patients and communities we care for.”

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