The US Navy’s floating hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, has dropped anchor off the coast of Haiti, bringing around 550 much-needed medical staff.
The crew immediately got down to work to treat life threatening injuries. The ship’s state-of-the-art facilities are inevitably going to be well used, as surgeon Tim Donahue explained:
“I’ve got five operation rooms running right now on patients who are getting washouts, amputations and revisions of their amputations,” he said.
The Comfort is there for the long haul – until at least some of the shattered country’s infrastructure has been rebuilt.
Estimates put the injured at over 250,000, many of whom, aid groups say, have died for lack of medical care or adequate equipment.
In a bid to speed up the delivery of other much needed help, the US is sending another 4,000 sailors and Marines- a deployment that will increase the number of US troops involved to around 16,000.
Meanwhile, staff in Port-au-Prince’s hospitals are still overwhelmed. Aid group Medecins Sans Frontières has complained that one of its planes carrying vital medical equipment has repeatedly been prevented from landing at the overworked airport.
Satoru Ida, an MSF doctor, said:
“The first, initial days, we had to refuse patients unfortunately. We just could not handle them. I’m really hoping that they found some other treatment somewhere else because we had to make some choices.”
So far, feared infectious diseases such as measles have not erupted, although many injured people faced the immediate threats of tetanus and gangrene.