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USNS Comfort Receives Critical Care Patient from Bayamon Hospital

CARIBBEAN SEA (Oct. 7, 2017) – Sailors embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) receive a patient from Bayamon Hospital in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, during a medical evacuation. An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, attached to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, conducted the patient transfer. Comfort is transiting from the Arecibo-Manati region to Aguadilla to provide medical services with additional visits being planned around the island. The U.S. Health and Human Services and Puerto Rico Department of Health representatives are prioritizing patients at each stop prior to Comfort’s arrival. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ernest R. Scott/Released)

Story by Lt.j.g. Samuel Boyle

Navy Public Affairs Support Element East – (Active)

CARIBBEAN SEA– The Mercy-class Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), while transiting from the coast of the Arecibo-Manati region of Puerto Rico to Aguadilla, received a critical patient from Bayamon Hospital in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Oct. 7.

Comfort has been receiving critical patients from Puerto Rican hospitals to relieve pressure on the Puerto Rican medical community, which is recovering from Hurricane Maria. The ship responded to hospital generators failing at Ryder Memorial Hospital‎ in Humacao Oct. 4, and Hospital Menonitas in Cagua Oct. 6.

The patient was driven to Centro Medico in San Juan then medevaced by the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 when the hospital ship was notified by the Joint Forces Land Component Commander Medical Operations Center working with the Puerto Rico Department of Health and U.S. Health and Human Services.

Comfort has treated 78 patients ranging from six months to 89 years in age and performed numerous procedures such as gastrostomy tube placement, colectomies, sacral-decubitus ulcer debridement, as well as treated for wounds, hernias and pneumonia.

Comfort is currently underway and expected to arrive and provide medical services in the Aguadilla region. With additional visits being planned for Comfort around the island, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Puerto Rico Department of Health representatives are prioritizing patients at each stop prior to Comfort’s arrival.

Comfort is a seagoing medical treatment facility that currently has more than 800 personnel embarked for the Puerto Rico mission including Navy medical and support staff assembled from 22 commands, as well as over 70 civil service mariners.

The DoD is supporting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

The DoD also continues delivering supplies on the ground as additional distribution centers are established across Puerto Rico. As of Oct. 6, over 7.3 million meals, 5.8 million liters of water and 273 generators were delivered to Puerto Rico in support of FEMA and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. There are more than 6,600 active duty service members and 56 helicopters operating in and around Puerto Rico. Comfort also has two helicopters onboard to support medical evacuations in hard-to-reach areas.

Comfort’s primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable, and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Comfort’s secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

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