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USNS Mercy Captain Discusses Current Status at DoD Briefing

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050428-07
Release Date: 4/28/2005 12:44:00 PM

By Christine A. Mahoney, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Capt. Mark Llewellyn, medical treatment facility commander aboard Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), took part in a Department of Defense (DoD) audio-only briefing at the Pentagon April 15 to discuss the current status of Mercy’s Indonesian tsunami and earthquake medical relief operations.

At the request of the government of Indonesia, the Military Sealift Command (MSC) ship Mercy, along with MSC combat stores ships USNS Niagara Falls (T-AFS 3) and USNS San Jose (T-AFS 7), is currently stationed off the coast of Nias, providing assistance as necessary with earthquake disaster relief efforts, and providing medical assistance to those in need.

“Since arriving off of the coast of Banda Aceh in February and now off the coast of Nias Island, our team of medical professionals and support personnel has been working hard to help our Indonesian friends, who so desperately need our assistance,” said Llewellyn. “Our work here continues, and we are committed to putting forth the very best medical, dental and support care we can provide from the Mercy team.”
 
The Indonesian government originally requested the U.S. government to provide relief assistance after the December 2004 tsunami. Mercy was ordered to the region to provide medical assistance. The ship was due to depart the region once tsunami relief efforts were completed. However, Indonesia was in need of further help after another catastrophic earthquake hit the area March 28.

“We left Banda Aceh on the 14th of March. We then started our return trip home to San Diego, with a much-reduced staff. We stopped for four days, working in Alor, Indonesia, and had done two days in Dili, East Timor, when we were called again to return back to Western Sumatra and Nias specifically, for earthquake disaster relief,” he said.

According to Llewellyn, Mercy’s medical staff has seen about 700 patients ashore and performed 48 major surgeries aboard the ship. Many of the procedures were orthopedic in nature. Currently, there are 45 patients aboard Mercy, and each patient comes aboard with a family member.

When asked about the total number of patients seen from Band Aceh, Llewellyn stated Mercy personnel saw more than 9,000 outpatients and performed 285 surgical procedures, 1,758 radiological tests, more than 4,000 laboratory procedures, and filled more than 5,000 prescriptions.

He added, “We also had a large number of dental cases ashore and optometry patients. We have given out 400 eyeglasses and we did a lot more than that in Banda Aceh, actually almost 5,000 eyeglasses.”

"We brought top-quality medical care, a top-notch mental health team and other capabilities from the U.S. Public Health Service, and a crucial preventive medicine unit," Llewellyn said. "We went in representing the heart of America."



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