Sunday, March 21, 2010

Home at Last

It has been a long and worthwhile endeavor for the Comfort team. We are now home and returning to our jobs around the U.S. Our mission to Haiti is something we will never forget. Thank you for the support along the way!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Comfort Returns To U.S. Following Haiti Mission

NORFOLK (Mar. 13, 2010) USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) navigated the Chesapeake Mar. 13 as high-ranking flag officers and family members at Naval Base Norfolk, Va. enthusiastically awaited the hospital ship’s return from its mission in Haiti supporting Operation Unified Response.
Comfort left her homeport of Baltimore, Md. in record time after receiving orders to make best speed to Haiti to provide medical aid to victims of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Jan. 12. The ship’s crew admitted their first patients three days after deploying and, following 49 days of operations off the coast of Port-au-Prince, had provided care to 794 Haitian nationals suffering from injuries ranging from crushed limbs to gangrenous wounds.
“What people did will affect medicine for a long time,” said Capt. James Ware, commanding officer of the medical treatment facility aboard Comfort. “People’s experiences and the lessons they learned will affect the way we treat earthquake related injuries in the future. I am very proud of the crew.”
A large part of Comfort’s medical efforts were devoted to surgeries. It took more than doctors, nurses and corpsmen to ensure that the 843 surgeries performed were successful, though. More than 1,400 Navy medical professionals and support personnel, ranging from culinary specialists to engineers, came together with civil mariners and nongovernmental volunteers to provide critical support to the multinational effort in Haiti.
The USAID-led mission in partnership with the government of Haiti presented a number of unique challenges. One of these was the communication barrier that existed between attending physicians and their patients.
“The ship initially had about ten people on board to help with translating,” said Chief Navy Career Counselor (SW) Marcel Blanfort, who headed up the translation department. “However, the commanding officer knew that the mission was of a greater scale.”
Seventy-five Sailors and one Marine from 39 military commands joined their shipmates along with 88 Red Cross volunteers, all French or Creole speaking, to bridge the gap. They interacted with patients and the medical staff aboard daily, working in the casualty receiving area, the operating rooms and after care wards where patients were brought following treatment.
“I was really glad to come down and help,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Yves Henry, a surgical technician and translator from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va. “We came and helped to the best of our ability. Some of the people that we helped would have died if we didn’t come.”
Now, eight weeks after their humanitarian mission began, Comfort’s crew is ready for a well-deserved reprieve.
“I’m excited about going home,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Vanal Lamour. “It will be nice to take some time to relax a little.”
Many of the personnel embarked with Comfort will leave the ship in Norfolk before the remaining crew continues their trek to Baltimore.
“It is all the support from people at home that helped to make this possible,” said Capt. Rodelio Laco, commodore, Task Group 41.8, who provided operational oversight aboard Comfort. “I would be proud to serve with any of these Sailors, any time, any where.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Comfort Holds Remembrance Before Getting Underway

100309-N-4047W-107 ABOARD USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20), At Anchor (Mar. 9, 2010) USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) crew members participated in a remembrance ceremony in honor of Haiti several hours before setting sail to return to the United States. Comfort’s crew of Sailors and civilian mariners came together with nongovernmental volunteers to provide humanitarian aid in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that rocked the Caribbean nation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon Warner/Released)

Unity with the People of Haiti

100309-N-4047W-058 ABOARD USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20), At Anchor (March 9, 2010) USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) command chaplain, Cmdr. David Oravec of Frederick, Md. led a prayer during a remembrance ceremony held on the flight deck of USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Comfort’s crew expressed their unity with the people of Haiti built over the course of the past few weeks while providing support during Operation Unified Response. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon Warner/Released)

Song Honors Peopel of Haiti

100309-N-4047W-106 ABOARD USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20), At Anchor (March 9, 2010) Sailors working as translators during Operation Unified Response aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) sang Ayiti Cheri (Haiti My Darling) in Creole during a remembrance ceremony in honor of the people of Haiti. The service marked the conclusion of Comfort’s participation in the USAID-led humanitarian effort to help the people of Haiti recover from a devastating earthquake last January. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon Warner/Released)

Comfort Remembrance Ceremony

100309-N-4378P-079 ABOARD USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20), At Anchor (March 9, 2010) Haitian-American Sailors embarked on the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) sing Ayiti Cheri (Haiti My Darling) in Creole during a remembrance ceremony held on the flight deck in honor of the people of Haiti. The ceremony marked the end of Comfort’s dynamic support of Operation Unified Response, during which more than 1,400 nongovernmental volunteers, Sailors and civil mariners aboard provided critical medical aid to the people of Haiti. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Edwardo Proano/Released)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

$2.5 Million in Relief

With many of the patients who initially received treatment being transferred to shore hospitals for after care, the Sailors on civilian mairners aboard have begun to focus there efforts on providing support where they can to thos facilities ashore. Last Thursday's evolution to offload $2.5 million in relief supplies is just one small example of those activities.

One hundred twenty pallets, consisting of general pharmaceuticals, health kits, dressings for wounds, and other medical supplies, were offloaded to an Army landing craft unit for transportation to a warehouse where the items will be cataloged before being sent on to help land-based medical treatment centers sustain follow-on care for Haitians injured in last month’s natural disaster. Many of these supplies will go to patients who were treated aboard Comfort.

The majority of the supplies were donated by non-governmental organizations, such as Project Hope. We've been working side-by-side with a lot of these organizations all along, and their help will continue to grow in imporatance in helping the government of Haiti with the long term recovery of the nation. They are capable, already on the ground, and doing a great job. The Comfort crew was happy to help boost that capability with the supplies.