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Port-au-Prince Aftercare Facility Receives First Comfort Patients

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100208-22
Release Date: 2/8/2010 6:23:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Jackson, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) Public Affairs

PORT-au-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Patients who recently received treatment aboard hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived at an intermediate aftercare facility (IAF) in Port-au-Prince Feb. 5 for post-operative treatment for injuries sustained during the devastating earthqauke.

Three patients arrived at the facility, which consists of a constellation of tents on a large field. The facility was established to create a transitional environment for aftercare treatment and rehabilitation of patients.

"The IAF provides a shore-based medical facility for medical patients who were discharged from Comfort, but are not quite ready to go home yet," said Lt. j.g. Joseph Fiscus, Comfort's patient administration department head and a native of Rochester, Pa.

The U.S. government is working in cooperation with foreign countries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the government of Haiti to establish IAFs to best meet the medical care needs of the people of Haiti.

"We are here to coordinate and work with the Haitian government," said Fiscus. "This is their country, and we are here as an asset to them, as they reunite Haitian patients with their families."

Many civilians volunteered their services to NGOs such as Project HOPE and American Red Cross to contribute to the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in Haiti.

"After the earthquake I volunteered my services to several organizations," said Project HOPE volunteer Roberta Mann, a general surgeon from Burdett, N.Y. who specializes in burn wounds. "I wanted to be here and felt my skills would be useful, so this is a perfect fit for me."

Mann embarked Comfort Feb. 4 with other Project HOPE volunteer nurses, surgeons and care providers to lend their service in support of the mission.

"Almost every patient aboard Comfort has at least one wound," said Mann. "The most severe injuries are the orthopedic and amputation patients. The wounds are healing well, but many healthcare providers are beginning to focus on the rehabilitation efforts for these patients."

Mann explained the importance of establishing aftercare facilities for post-operative medical patients.

"Each day provides the chance to make progress during the rehabilitation process," Mann said. "Here the patients are going to learn how to take care of themselves and each other."

Mann also said that while many patients will require physical therapy, an independent future appears hopeful for many with debilitating injuries.

"Once all the wounds heal, physical therapy is what is going to help disabled patients walk again," said Mann. "We need physical therapists to volunteer their skills because that is the next step during recovery at IAFs."

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