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Comfort and Centro Medico Partner Up

Story by Seaman Danny Nunez

Navy Public Affairs Support Element East – (Active)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Surgeons from the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) partnered with oncologists and pathologists from Centro Medico hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to care for a woman with stage four breast cancer this week, performing surgery Oct. 31 onboard Comfort prior to her transfer.

It is the first collaborative cancer treatment between Comfort and Centro Medico and is an important step in Comfort’s mission to support local medical facilities and restore local capability.

Jessica Torres-Perez arrived at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services medical tent in San Juan, Oct. 30 and was seen by the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), which is comprised of dozens of medical personnel from U.S. Health and Human Services and Comfort’s medical staff to provide care pier side.

Torres-Perez was admitted to Comfort because her symptoms were beyond what was treatable by DMAT personnel. Doctors from Comfort immediately reached out to Centro Medico to discuss co-treatment, leading to the surgical procedure.

Cmdr. Howard Pryor, director of surgical services on Comfort, performed the surgery. Dr. Maria Marcos, Director of the Anatomic Pathology Laboratory at University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and Dr. Renold Lopez, chief of surgical oncology at the university, will provide sample testing, chemotherapy and after care to the patient.

“I’m extremely thankful for everything. If I didn’t come here, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Torres-Perez. “Comfort came like angels to Puerto Rico.”

She said her house is still standing, but in disrepair after the devastating forces of Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island a little more than six weeks ago. With a successful surgery, Torres-Perez is looking forward to what the future holds for her and the island of Puerto Rico.

She was discharged from Comfort Nov. 5 and will continue to receive treatment from Centro Medico.

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 hospital ship has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States and is equipped with four X-ray machines, one CAT scan unit, a dental suite, an optometry lens laboratory, physical therapy center, pharmacy, angiography suite and two oxygen-producing plants.

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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