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Final Patient Movement Aboard Comfort

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071008-03
Release Date: 10/8/2007 11:53:00 AM


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

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Comfort’s last group of 11 patients, escorts and translators were assisted to an MH-60S helicopter the morning of Oct. 7 after receiving medical care aboard hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), as their stay on the ship ended and they returned to the shores of Suriname.

This last patient movement wrapped up Comfort's four-month humanitarian deployment, which took the ship and her crew to a dozen countries, providing services on land and on the ship. More than 80 patients were treated on Comfort alone in Suriname.

“I had a good experience,” said Claudia Hardjopawiro, a patient who had a cyst removed from her arm. “The best part of my time aboard the ship? Everything!”

Patients came to Comfort by helicopter to receive medical advice and treatment by military and civilian health care professionals. Their stay aboard Comfort began when they checked in at the casualty and receiving (CASREC) area of the ship, which is also where they checked out when their stay was finished.

They stayed overnight if necessary in the pre-operation ward, the Comfort Inn, and in the recovery wards following their surgeries. Children received toys, and all patients received postcard mementos with their photo on them to remember their stay.

“There’s a bit of sadness now that it’s coming to an end,” said Lt.j.g. Matthew Deshazo, who primarily worked in CASREC aboard Comfort. “There was a lot of hard work done by the crew, and everyone was so engaged in the mission, but it’s time to move on to the next chapter.”

Comfort’s medical crew provided care that included examinations, computer axio-tomography scans, X-rays and surgeries for patients ranging in age from infants to the elderly. From Belize to Suriname, the crew of Comfort has kept busy, and will have great memories for years to come.

“When patients were leaving the ship after receiving medical care, the expressions of gratitude on their faces were some of the most memorable moments of this deployment,” Deshazo said.

The members of Comfort’s crew who worked closest with the patients received more than just medical and technical education while on the deployment.

“I learned so much about the different cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Hospitalman Dustin Getz, who also worked in CASREC. “I don’t speak Spanish, and a lot of the countries we visited were Spanish-speaking countries. I had to work with translators or my co-workers to understand patients.”

The ship is now on its way to Norfolk, where many of the crew are stationed. Comfort will then continue to its layberth in Baltimore, Md., to undergo repairs, general upkeep and maintenance.

“I could keep doing this forever if I didn’t have family back home,” said Hospitalman Wesley Williams, who worked in CASREC. “We have accomplished a lot in the last four months and it feels pretty good.”

Comfort is at the end of its four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean and has provided medical care to patients in a dozen countries.

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