Doctors, nurses, and other professional staff from Ithaca-based Cayuga Health are departing this morning on a trip to help out with the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.

“We are proud to be sending such outstanding medical professionals and true ‘healthcare heroes’ to assist hard hit New York City in fighting this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Martin Stallone, president and CEO of Cayuga Health.

The teams will fill two buses being provided by Cornell University. They will depart at 8:30 a.m. this morning with a send-off ceremony that will be streamed via Facebook Live. Organizers also urged those in the community to cheer and hold up signs along the route in support of the staff, with respect to proper social distancing. The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office will help with the procession through the city, which will be followed by an official NASCAR pace car from Watkins Glen International Speedway.

Stallone thanked Cornell University for its support with this effort.

“These volunteers, and all of the health care workers at the forefront of this pandemic, are acting with courage and compassion in a situation that is both unprecedented and incredibly challenging,” said Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack. “Together with our essential workers, like police, firefighters, facilities workers, food and grocery workers and others, they deserve every support we can offer them as they help to meet the critical human needs in this crisis.”

“We will continue to do what it takes to fight this epidemic and meet the healthcare needs of our community and beyond,” Stallone added. “We may be a small community, but our employees have huge hearts and we know that we can step up and help out in a big way.”

Additional information about the effort can be found at www.cayugahealthsystem.org/nyc/.