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126 NMCP Staff Deploy to Provide Medical Assistance to Haiti

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100119-04
Release Date: 1/19/2010 2:16:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Riza Caparros, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Less than 24 hours after receiving word they would be assisting relief efforts to Haiti, 126 staff members packed the gymnasium at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) ready to help Jan. 15.

NMCP's deployers left the medical center by bus on to rendezvous with the USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) in Baltimore to be part of the hospital ship's 550 medical personnel. The ship got underway for Haiti Jan. 16.

Staff members from Portsmouth participating in the humanitarian mission include doctors, nurses, corpsmen, pharmacists, technicians, culinary specialists and administrative personnel.

Cmdr. William Scouten of NMCP's Pediatrics department was designated mission commander. According to Scouten, one of the most important jobs he will have is making sure every member of his team is okay throughout the whole deployment.

"As a leader, I have to be certain that I check on all the members of the team and throughout the entire time we are gone, to make sure they all realize that it is okay to say, I'm depressed, I'm tired, what we are doing and seeing scares me," said Scouten.

The work ensuring staff are ready to deploy for this mission was intense, according to Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Marcell Brown of NMCP's Plans, Operations and Mobilization department.

"Our job in POMI (Plans, Operations and Mobilization) is to prepare all personnel so they are ready to go out on the missions," said Brown. "We make sure they are medically ready to deploy, their immunizations are up to date, travel arrangements are made and the lengthy task of screening all the health records once a staff member has been identified to deploy."

All of those tasks were completed in under 24 hours for all 126 staff members.

"I'm very excited to get going, but a little nervous about what I will be doing and seeing," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Christopher Hunt. "I found out I was going 18 hours ago. Since then, I have been running around packing, getting things I need for the trip, making sure my wife would be okay while I'm gone."

One part of the pre-deployment process was getting all those who were leaving immunized for potential diseases they could come in contact with. This included getting immunized for H1N1 influenza, typhoid and yellow fever.

The deployers lined up in the gym to receive those shots. While Hunt was being immunized, his wife Angelica talked about the whirlwind of emotions that she went through since her husband received word that he would be going.

"At first I was upset when I heard my husband would be leaving, especially when I heard it would be anywhere between 30 days to three months," she said. "But I know this is something he really wants to do. Because of that I support him completely."

For more news from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, visit www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.



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