News / USA

Floating US Navy Hospital Heads to Haiti

Multimedia

Audio

The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort is heading to Haiti to help treat survivors of last week's devastating earthquake.

The Comfort is, essentially, a floating hospital.

"All right, bed capacity: In casualty receiving, I have 50 beds," said Lieutenant Commander Dan D'Aurora, the Division Officer for Casualty Receiving on the USNS Comfort.  "We've got 12 operating rooms; we've got 20 recovery beds.  We have 80 intensive care beds, 400 intermediate care and 500 minimal care."

"This is essentially a hospital within a ship," he said.  "In other words, they took a supertanker into the drydock, they hollowed it out like a canoe and dropped in the hospital, plain and simple."

A hospital that is now staffed by more than 550 medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and a variety of surgeons.  They boarded the ship in the port of Baltimore Friday evening, arriving there on short notice from across the United States.  Now, they are cruising toward Haiti at speeds of up to 24 kilometers per hour.

They try to bring pieces of home with them to this ship that will become both home and workplace for weeks or even months.

"I put all my pictures back up, and you bring special treats like food," said one staff member.  "Like, I am a coffee fanatic, so I had to have my Starbucks."

On board, the Comfort feels almost entirely like a hospital. It has wide corridors, signs pointing toward  various wards or calling for people to wear scrubs (hospital attire) in sterile areas.  If it were not for the rolling and listing (of the ship), the glimpses of the sea from certain passageways and a general hum, one could almost forget it is a ship.

But it is a different world on the external decks of this white 10-story vessel, emblazoned with a red cross. 

That is Deck Officer Joe Krans.  He is one of the men and women responsible for the sea-faring elements of this floating hospital.  Krans has been on Comfort humanitarian missions before, including trips to Haiti, but this is the first time it will be in response to a disaster there.

"This is totally different because, you know, [during] the other ones [missions], I could walk around Haiti in certain places that weren't dangerous, and it was just, you know, vast poverty,  kind of sad.  But, now, will be, you know, unfortunately, it will be the smell of death," said Krans.

On the eve of the ship's Saturday departure from Baltimore, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, Vice Admiral Adam Robinson, addressed hundreds of camoflauge-clad men and women gathered in the ship's dining hall.  He characterized this situation as "very intense, very critical," and called the Comfort "the best medical facility in the Caribbean."  And in a speech that was equal parts pep-talk and thank you, he prepared them for the scope of the challenge that awaits them in Port-au-Prince.

"I did a humanitarian mission in Haiti.  I've had medical professionals there.  I've  seen the stress of humanitarian missions in Haiti. That was without earthquake," he said.  "You're going to have all that, plus an earthquake."

Doctor Robinson said he expects to have Naval and medical assets in Haiti for a minimum of six months and likely even longer than that. 
 

You May Like

Video 2nd American Reportedly Killed in Syria

Local television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left the area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid