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Navy Corpsman Receives BUMED’s Sailor of the Quarter Award while Embarked on Comfort

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephane Belcher

Navy Medicine East

A hospital corpsman embarked on the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) was selected as U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) Senior Sailor of the Quarter (SSOQ), Oct. 5.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Sean Cather, the leading petty officer of operational medical contingency development at BUMED, received the news aboard Comfort while providing hurricane relief in the Arecido-Manati region of Puerto Rico. He commended his shipmates for the unexpected honor.

“It was a humbling experience,” said Cather. “You’re not selected for this type of thing as an individual. To me, it’s a team effort.”

At BUMED, Cather is part of a team that assists with mobilizing individual augmentees and supporting the Naval Medical Augmentation Program throughout Navy Medicine facilities around the world. Aboard Comfort he’s more hands-on with his fellow shipmates and patients as the assistant leading petty officer of 23 junior Sailors in the casualty receiving department.

Chief Hospital Corpsman Eric Watson, the leading chief petty officer for the Dental Department at Branch Health Clinic Naval Station Norfolk, and Cather’s chief petty officer on Comfort, said he’s not surprised that Cather received SSOQ. Watson previously served with Cather while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

“He always puts his Sailors before himself,” said Watson. “He puts the mission before himself. And he was able to take those operational skills [from Afghanistan] and put them in place here.”

Cather and his team in casualty receiving on Comfort are the first, and sometimes only, faces patients see on the ship. They receive the patients, then triage and treat them. When the ship first took patients on from Puerto Rico, Cather hit the ground running.

“He took control,” said Watson. “He took control of the tracker and directed corpsmen to work with nurses and doctors, which helped track patient location from casualty receiving to where they were going.”

Comfort has treated 77 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’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.

For more information, visit Comfort’s website at www.navy.mil/local/tah20

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