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American, Canadian Physicians Treat More Than 500 Patients

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070719-07
Release Date: 7/19/2007 3:43:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elizabeth Allen, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

COLON, Panama (NNS) -- U.S. Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service and Canadian Forces health care providers attached to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), treated approximately 570 patients at the 2-month-old Dr. Juan A. Nunez Policentro de Salud Hospital in Colon on July 5.

“We’re exceeding our expectations,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Belitza Hernandez. “It took us by surprise -- the number of patients that came out in Guatemala. I think we’re going to have a bigger outcome here in Panama.”

Teams of physicians from Comfort will be at the hospital for the next three days treating patients. Services included adult medicine, women’s health, optometry, pediatrics and a pharmacy. Patients requiring more intensive services will get transported back to Comfort, where doctors will perform consultations and surgeries.

Four different sites were available to patients in the city of Colon -- two primary care, one pre-operational and one Seabee location. Nearly 4,400 patients were treated the first day, with most treatment focusing on dental, women’s health and optometry services.

“They have limited medical care so I believe that’s why we’re here,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Aaron Hermon. “We’re accomplishing our goals by providing the needs to the local people, bringing our expertise, care and abilities -- whether it’s mechanical or patient care to these individuals -- and helping them out, trying to make one day better for them.”

Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical treatment to patients in a dozen countries. While deployed, Comfort is under operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and tactical control of Destroyer Squadron 24.

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