A New York hospital's entire staff was surprised with free vacations in recognition of their efforts to combat coronavirus

An NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst nurse cries after finding out she and thousands of health care workers will receive free vacations from Hyatt and American Airlines.

(CNN)Thousands of employees at a hospital in the epicenter of America's fight against the coronavirus are being rewarded for their hard work.

More than 4,000 hospital staff -- including doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and facilities and food service teams -- at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst were surprised with a three-night complimentary vacation, Hyatt and American Airlines announced Friday.
The two companies collaborated to treat the frontline workers with free round trip flights on American Airlines to Hyatt hotels in select destinations across the US and Caribbean "to help them recharge and reconnect with their loved ones" once they are able to.
    "We are extremely grateful to Hyatt and American Airlines for this generous gift to our health care workers, who have been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic," Israel Rocha, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, said in a statement.
    "Our doctors, nurses, and other staff on the front lines of this unprecedented health care crisis really appreciate the outpouring of support from two of America's major companies, and we look forward to taking advantage of these well-earned vacations in the near future."
    NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, a public hospital in Queens, serves about 1 million people per year in a socio-economically diverse area.
    By Saturday afternoon, more than 333,000 people in New York had contracted coronavirus and more than 26,000 people had died, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.
    Since the moment the pandemic took hold of New York City, Elmhurst staff have been working to overcome the staggering number of coronavirus cases. In response to the pandemic, the 545-bed hospital increased its Intensive Care Units' (ICU) capacity by 500%.
    However, severe shortages in personal protective equipment and ventilators have put health care workers at significant risk of contracting the virus. Many have also expressed fear of transferring it to friends and family.
    Hyatt President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian and American Airlines President Robert Isom announce surprise, free vacations for thousands of NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst staff.
      "Every worker at Elmhurst has seen and experienced challenges many of us cannot imagine. They've given so much of themselves and chose to serve their community with care, compassion and equity for every patient," Robert Isom, president of American Airlines, said in a news release.
      "When they are able to take a break, we hope the time away will help them and their loved ones recharge and that they feel our deepest appreciation for their sacrifice and heroism."