The 1,000-bed hospital ship USNS Mercy sailed into the Port of Los Angeles today to provide relief for Southern California hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The ship departed Naval Station San Diego Monday and entered the Port of Los Angeles at about 8 a.m., where it will dock at the cruise ship terminal. Mercy will not house people who test positive or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but, rather the ship’s staff will take care of patients suffering from other ailments and injuries. Port officials said the arrival of Mercy is not expected to disrupt shipment operations, and there will be a gradual transfer of patients to the ship from land-based hospitals as needed.
Mercy cruised into the port with more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff, and 70-plus civil service mariners who operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the medical facility running.
The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults, according to the Navy. This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their intensive care units and ventilators for those patients.
“This global crisis demands whole of government response, and we are ready to support,” said Navy Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy’s military treatment facility commanding officer.
“Mercy brings a team of medical professionals, medical equipment and supplies, all of which will act, in essence, as a ‘relief valve’ for local civilian hospitals in Los Angeles so that local health professionals can better focus on COVID-19 cases,” he said. “We will use our agility and responsiveness as an afloat medical treatment facility to do what the country asks, and bring relief where we are needed most.”
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