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USNS Comfort Begins Work in Haiti And Prepares To Expand Medical Capability

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100120-23
Release Date: 1/20/2010 11:16:00 PM

By Bureau of Navy Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy hospital ship, USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20), arrived off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti Jan. 20 and began receiving injured patients from the local hospitals and international medical facilities currently in Haiti.

The ship deployed from its homeport in Baltimore Jan. 16 with an overall crew of 850 that included a medical team comprised of 550 medical and non-medical support staff, including Navy doctors, nurses, corpsmen, technicians and support staff ready to provide a host of medical services including primary care, trauma care, pediatric care, orthopedic care and more.

The embarked medical support team will be augmented by 350 additional team members who are scheduled to arrive on board the ship in the next few days. With the additional medical staff, the hospital ship will have the capability to increase available beds from its current configuration of 250 -- set up during the ship's transit -- to nearly 1,000, including 880 ward beds, 80 intensive care unit beds and 20 post anesthesia care unit beds.

The augmented medical staff will also enable Comfort to expand its operating room capability from 6 to 11. A twelfth operating room is specifically designed to support advanced interventional radiology procedures.

The ship will initially receive urgent surgical patients. Patients transported to the hospital ship will have a family member escort, if available. After treatment, the ship's medical personnel will determine the patient's follow-on care. Additionally, medical teams from the hospital ship will move ashore to help in casualty evaluation and are prepared to triage crush wounds and burn injuries and other health issues.

Comfort is part of a larger United States response to the government of Haiti request for humanitarian assistance. The U.S. effort is being coordinated by the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Comfort was last in Haiti in April 2009 for 12 days as part of Continuing Promise 2009.

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