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Mercy Brings NEPMU 6 Home to Hawaii

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050531-11
Release Date: 5/31/2005 2:15:00 PM

From U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Pearl Harbor May 30, bringing home members of Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit (NEPMU) 6.

Twenty-three men and women from NEPMU 6 deployed Jan. 11 to Thailand and the areas hit hardest by the December tsunami, including Aceh Province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

“It’s just superb,” said Rear Adm. Douglas McClain, Pacific Fleet deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and policy. “I would like to give you a hearty aloha on this day that we commemorate those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom."

The team included epidemiologists, entomologists, industrial hygienists, lab technicians, and environmental health and preventive medicine specialists who worked with disease assessment and treatment, monitoring water quality, food sanitation and mosquitoes. Team members worked closely with their host nations, as well as with international relief organizations and medical personnel aboard Mercy, which deployed from San Diego Jan. 5.

“It is hard to describe the impact of a disaster until you see it,” said Capt. David Llewellyn, commanding officer of the hospital ship's medical treatment facility, “but we were heartened by the people of Banda Aceh."

After tsunami relief efforts had wound up, some team members continued aboard Mercy to Dili, East Timor, for a humanitarian aid mission there before returning to Nias, Indonesia, to help survivors of the devastating March 28 earthquake.

While in Nias, NEPMU 6 analyzed water quality for about 120,000 residents, assessed the safety of 285 public buildings, and conducted malaria and infectious disease clinical diagnostics as part of a public health collaborative effort on the island.

Most recently, Mercy and the NEPMU 6 team arrived off Madang, Papua New Guinea, May 16 for humanitarian assistance operations in the vicinity of Modilon General Hospital the following day. From May 17-20, Mercy’s staff completed 27,931 medical procedures, conducted 27 surgeries, performed 114 dental examinations, 148 dental extractions and prescribed more than 1,000 pairs of glasses.

Additionally, NEPMU 6 personnel ensured the health and well-being of 6,000 displaced individuals by conducting public health assessments of two Internally Displaced Population (IDP) Camps located 110 miles northwest of Madang, near the town of Bogia. These IDP Camps housed individuals displaced by a volcano eruption on the island of Manum.

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