CRISIS/HEALTHCARE/NAVY/PUERTO RICO: “After Hurricane Maria ravaged this island, leaving most hospitals here without reliable power, the U.S. Navy sent a massive floating hospital to help fill gaps in the fragile health-care system.
Hardly anyone has used it.
The USNS Comfort, a 70,000-metric-ton ship staffed with roughly 800 medical and support personnel and 250 beds, has treated only about 150 people since it arrived on Oct. 3, said a U.S. Navy spokesman aboard the vessel. It costs about $180,000 daily to operate the ship, according to the Navy.
Comfort service members said they initially feared demand would exceed their capabilities. Now they are frustrated they aren’t doing more, said Capt. Kevin Robinson, mission commander. He said he reminds his staff ‘there is no doubt that some of those patients (they’ve treated) wouldn’t be alive today if we weren’t available.’…
Government officials say Puerto Rican hospitals are aware the Comfort is ready to take in critical patients. But if Dr. Felix Valle-Avilés is an example, few know about it. Dr. Valle-Avilés, who works at a community health center and a walk-in clinic in Arecibo on the island’s northwest, said he hadn’t received information about the ship or how it can be used…
To slice through some bureaucracy, officials recently changed the protocol to allow regional hospitals to contact the operation center directly, said U.S. Army Colonel Jose Garcia, who oversees medical coordination for the U.S. Department of Defense’s relief efforts. Patient numbers have gradually climbed in recent days.”
-Daniela Hernandez, “A U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Was Sent to Puerto Rico—It’s Barely Been Used,” The Wall Street Journal online, Oct. 19, 2017 01:20pm