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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid