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

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs