8 in critical condition aboard USNS Comfort in Puerto Rico

PUERTO RICO (WAVY) – The USNS Comfort continues to treat victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Last week doctors received four critical patients from Hospital Menonita in Caguas, Puerto Rico, after its generator failed.

The hospital ship was able to respond by coordinating with U.S. Health and Human Services and the Puerto Rico Department of Health, who engaged in a Medical Summit on board Comfort immediately upon the ship’s arrival in Puerto Rico.

Commander John Devlin is working on the USNS Comfort as an Emergency Room physician. He says the generators are a temporary remedy for Puerto Rico and they are not designed to function for days or weeks.

“We are seeing some mechanical failures. When the failures occur, most of the patients can still be managed at the hospitals but every now and then some of those sickest patients who have the highest demands or ventilator support will be medevaced to comfort,” Commander Devlin said.

The four patients were medevaced by the USS Wasp and USNS Comfort’s detachments of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron, the “Sea Knights”.

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.

There are more than 500 medical personnel deployed aboard the Comfort, which has more 1,000 beds and 11 operating rooms. Navy officials tweeted a photo Tuesday afternoon of the Comfort arriving at port in San Juan.

Puerto Rico was devastated by the powerful Hurricane Maria in September. Millions of people were left in the dark after the storm’s damaging winds and rain swept across the island.

“The doctors and nurses here are perfectly capable of taking care of the patients there are just a lot more of them and because of the infrastructure and devastation they are a little handicap and so we are here to take on the patients who are overwhelming the system,” said Dr. Devlin.