Situation is critical on COMFORT according to the Baltimore Sun’s Robert Little. His article today entitled “Comfort’s Ability to Help Stretched to Limit: Too many need attention for ship to take them all” is a must read. Excerpts include:
…The largest and most capable hospital in Haiti today, the Comfort is reaching its breaking point…
The ship’s space and supplies are overtaxed, forcing the crew to contemplate declining new admissions. The injuries are so abundant and severe that an otherwise acceptable caseload is unmanageable, forcing providers to choose between declining care and forgoing rest and food…
…”Even if every day we could have a critical-care flight of 20 patients out of here, we wouldn’t be able to keep up,” said Capt. Andrew Johnson, the ship’s director of medical operations.
That reality, Johnson said, is forcing the medical staff to consider declining care to some critically injured patients, if only to free up room and resources that could be used to save more people.
…Already the ship is caring for more burn patients and premature infants, for instance, than it can handle. It has run out of breathing ventilators, and incubators for sick babies. The operating rooms are on a 24-hour schedule…
…Capt. Jim Ware, commander of the ship’s medical facility, said the Comfort has cared for more patients in the last five days than it did during all of the two wars in Iraq. With a patient population of more than 400 and a staff and crew of more than 1,000, it has been transformed, in less than a week, from a dormant hospital floating in Baltimore into one of the busiest U.S. Department of Defense medical facilities in the world.
Full article here.
Yes, I know about the tyranny of distance from San Diego to Port-au-Prince. According to distances.com, it would be a 5,281 mile voyage taking some 11 days.
Yes, I know the MERCY is presently at a shipyard in San Francisco through the beginning of March.
Yes, I know that it is manpower intensive. Call-up reservists and guardsmen. You know how to reach me. (I would make a great blogger/social media guru aboard MERCY).
Have Project Hope recruit more volunteers! Recruit personnel from across the inter-agency. Get our coalition partners involved. Hire contractors.
Yes, I know it would require a backfill in the Pacific.
Yes, I know it is expensive. Hold another tele-a-thon.
Yes, it would require lots of supplies.
I was hoping I would never have to write this post.
Just as the Haiti earthquake confirmed my calls for a larger fleet of hospital ships, Little’s article left me with no choice to urge the activation of the USNS Mercy.
God Speed MERCY!