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Comfort Off to Strong Start in Haiti

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100129-10
Release Date: 1/29/2010 3:53:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Chelsea Kennedy, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) public affairs

USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20), At Anchor (NNS) -- After eight days in support of Operation Unified Response, the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) has made a significant impacct in humanitarian aid and relief mission in Haiti.

Comfort departed Baltimore Jan. 16 following a presidential order to provide humanitarian aid to the Caribbean nation in response to the Jan. 12 earthquake which devastated the country.

In the short time Comfort has been on station, Sailors and civilians aboard the ship have provided much needed medical care to the Haitian people as part of a multinational effort.

"It was very encouraging to see people who came to us broken and really desperate leaving the ship smiling and chatting with each other," Destroyer Squadron 40 (DESRON 40) Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Mortimer. Destroyer Squadron 40 is embarked aboard Comfort.

There have been more than 372 medical evacuations to Comfot, and the hospital ship's medical professionals are also helping establish patient triage sites ashore.

"It's a hope and a chance for people who don't really have much right now" said Comfort Medical Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Jeffery Stancil. "[Our contributions] are absolutely being felt out there and we are making a huge difference."

The Comfort surgical team has performed more than 260 procedures, ranging from resetting crushed limbs to amputations in an effort to save lives. The ship's medical professionals have also assisted in the birth of a baby girl.

"I am very proud of the work that we are doing," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Ray, an oral/maxillofacial surgeon aboard Comfort. "There are so many very badly injured people that need surgery, and we are the most equipped to handle those needs. We have 11 fully functioning operating rooms, a wide variety of surgical specialties available, and a large support staff."

Comfort is a state-of-the-art medical facility with a 1,000 bed capacity that is filling quickly.

"We just got here (last week), said Comfort Ship's Master Robert Holley, who is responsible for the operation of the ship. "The job that we have done in this short period of time with everybody here coming together is very impressive."

To date, there have been 504 patients admitted on board and 85 patients discharged.

As the mission progresses, Comfort is working to develop follow-up plans for patient care and treatment and providing aid to local civilian medical facilities.

For more news from USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), visit www.navy.mil/local/tah20/.



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