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Comfort Departs Guyana, Heads for Suriname

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071001-25
Release Date: 10/1/2007 5:52:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelly E. Barnes, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Guyana Oct. 1 after a week of humanitarian operations in the country.

Comfort offered services in various locations in and around the city of Georgetown. In all, services were offered at Charity Hospital, Project Dawn Health Care Facility, Georgetown Public Hospital, Grove Primary School, Cheddi Jagan Dental Centre and Mahaiconey Community Center. Those services included primary adult and pediatric care, dental services, optometry, veterinarian care and other services.

Conducting large-scale operations in six locations simultaneously was no easy task, said Comfort’s mission commander Capt. Bob Kapcio. The mission required the all-hands participation of Comfort’s joint-agency crew. Members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, Military Sealift Command, Canadian Forces, and civilian non-governmental organization Project Hope all played a big part in this mission.

“Everyone’s hard work here has really re-solidified our relationship with the people of Guyana,” Kapcio said. “When I tour the treatment sites, I see sincere smiles on the faces of our Comfort team and on the faces of our friends in Guyana. I’m proud to be a part of a crew like this.”

In addition to medical services the Comfort team provided, the embarked Naval Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202’s Seabees’ projects in Guyana included work at Dorothy Bailey Health Center and Grove Primary School, building handrails; installing counters and sinks; and installing a fence around the school; and painting the health care center. One Seabee single-handedly restored water to Grove Primary School, a school with 1,400 children, after nearly seven years without it.

“We really appreciate the facelift on our building and all the work that’s been done,” said Grove’s senior mistress, Wendy Chichester.

Comfort also offered tangible gifts, in the form of medical equipment and supplies, clothing and toys donated by Project Handclasp, a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the U.S. Navy. More than $10,000 worth of goods were donated to the people of Guyana, including three hospital beds, medical supplies, handmade quilts, hospital furniture, teddy bears, and children’s and infants’ clothing.

“Our trip to Guyana has been very rewarding,” said Capt. Bruce Boynton, commanding officer of Comfort’s medical treatment facility. “My doctors have commented that the people here are some of the friendliest they have ever met, and the providers are skilled and eager to learn. The medical education portion of our mission was especially successful – the medical professionals in Guyana are well trained and passionate about making a difference.”

Comfort will make her final stop in Suriname next, after four months of humanitarian care providing medical treatment to patients in a dozen countries.

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