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NHB Team Aboard Bataan Supports Haiti Relief Effort

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100211-03
Release Date: 2/11/2010 8:41:00 AM

By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen from Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) have been embarked on board multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) since Jan. 17.

Bataan is currently off the coast of Haiti operating in support of Operation Unified Response.

"I only have great things to say about each and every staff member. In times of chaos and crises, they have responded with care, calm and confident professionalism," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Rena Shockey, regarding the NHB team made up of doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen on board Bataan. "We have taken care of a full variety of injuries and illnesses, though some hit us a little harder than others."

The NHB team immediately found themselves responding to the medical needs of Haitian quake victims.

"All of us, as well as the Fleet Surgical Team already there and the ship's crew, pulled together and acted as a well rehearsed team to care for each and every patient," said Shockey. "I found this amazing as most of us had never met, let alone worked together."

Patients arrived on board Bataan via helicopter and air cushion landing craft.

"Both are effective platforms for transporting patients and allow for greater triage and continuous care by the physicians, nurses and hospital corpsmen who are ashore," explained Shockey. "Once here on the ship, all move into action as a cohesive team to best treat the patients who have arrived. It is an amazing sight to see."

NHB staff members are also striving to do as much as they can to assist the relief effort ashore.

"We have had a number of staff ashore for Sailor Ashore Missions (SAM's) doing a variety of tasks to help the Haitians," said Shockey. "Some have been more of scouting missions. Others gone to the local clinic where we help coordinate the transport of appropriate patients and still others have been on working parties for leveling dangerous structures or moving rubble."

The days have been long for everyone, especially for those in need. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage and has leveled much of the island nation's infrastructure.

"I think we all agree that the most difficult parts of this assignment are sending the patients back after treating them to Haiti, especially the kids," said Shockey. "It is a bittersweet moment for all of us."

According to Shockey, the military response on board Bataan also includes a group of Marine Corps linguists who have been very helpful in the treatment of casualties. They have been effective in bridging communication and cultural differences between provider and patient.

"Cultural differences have been considered in treating each patient as part of the overall process and haven't been an issue," noted Shockey, citing the culinary needs of each recovering patient as a prime example.

Shockey also attests that good, old American ingenuity has also played a part in the NHB team's support of Operation Unified Response.

"Improvisation and flexibility have allowed us not just to care for more patients but to improve the quality of care given to each patient as well," she said. "As time progresses everyone is maturing and growing to fulfill a need with limited resources. Our hospital corpsmen are finding out and amazing themselves at what they can do. They are seeing their boundaries extended and are making timely decisions often reserved for nurses and doctors. I would love to name one or two who have stepped out above the others as top performers, but I cannot, as all are answering the call with courage and dedication they did not know existed."

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