The New York State Nurses Union launched a program that will send upstate hospital nurses downstate to help out with COVID-19 patients.

More than 120 nurses have volunteered to be a part of the Upstate COVID Nurses Corps, and are partnering with downstate hospitals that need the most assistance right now.

On Tuesday, the first group of nurses from Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh will be starting at Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island.

“Nurses want to do everything they can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and do what they do best, care for patients," Executive Director Pat Kane, RN, said. "We want to make it possible for them to go where the need is greatest.”

While downstate hospitals have been at the epicenter of fighting this virus, upstate hospitals have been laying off their hospital staff due to elective surgeries being placed on pause and an increase in expenses.

NYSNA say that if nurses volunteer to be a part of the Upstate COVID Nurse Corps, upstate hospitals must guarantee employment and continue health insurance coverage. In return, New York City hospitals have agreed to pay per diem salaries for upstate nurses working in their facilities. The state will also pay for food, travel, and overnight accommodations.

“We’ve been preparing for the surge Upstate, but too many nurses are on hold, which makes no sense when people so desperately need help," Cassie Stanley, RN said.

“We are really excited to get the help, because we are often working short staffed and have not been able to take any holidays or vacation days, so it’s very tiring," Maria Zaharescu, RN, from RUMC said. "As a float nurse, I understand that it can be scary when you first come into a new department, but we have a good team here to orient and support our Upstate nurses.”

Downstate hospitals participating include the Brooklyn Hospital, Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, and Richmond University Medical Center.