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Haiti - USNS Comfort Medical and Surgical Support

The USNS Comfort is a floating hospital that usually leaves her home port of Baltimore, MD for missions that provide medical and surgical care to medically-needy countries.

The Comfort was not even anchored before receiving her first two patients the night of January 19. 

February 22, the naval hospital ship briefly left Haiti to complete a replenishment at sea where the Comfort received more than 22,000 gallons of fuel and 10,000 gallons of water. The Comfort returned and continued its humanitarian medical assistance mission in Haiti.

Before departing Haitian waters on March 9 for the trip back to its home port, the Comfort off-loaded $2.5 million in relief supplies. One hundred twenty pallets, consisting of general pharmaceuticals, health kits, dressings for wounds, and other medical supplies, were loaded onto an Army landing craft unit for transportation to a warehouse. The items will be be sent on to help land-based medical treatment centers sustain follow-on care. Many of these supplies will go to patients who were treated aboard Comfort.

The ship’s complement included a 550-person medical team that includes trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, eye surgeons and obstetricians and gynecologists, and 300 mariners and staff to provide security, communications and other shipboard support.

The initial medical staff aboard was mainly from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia. The team also included medical professionals from the Army, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service. The Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The first wave of nongovernmental medical volunteers boarded January 27. The first rotation consisted of Project HOPE volunteers and included medical professionals with experience in surgery, neonatal intensive care, pediatrics, post anesthesia care, intensive care and physical therapy.

The onboard laboratory had 20 lab technicians who ran complete blood counts, the basic metabolic panel -- which gives the levels of electrolytes plus glucose -- and a series of blood bank tests for cross-matching and transfusions. The lab also did testing for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, urinalysis and microbiology.  More about the lab>>

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