USNS Comfort Leaves New York After Treating 182 Patients

Mike Schuler
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April 30, 2020
The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort heads past lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center building under heavy fog as it leaves to return to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, April 30, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The USNS Comfort has departed New York City after supporting Department of Defense’s COVID-19 response efforts to New York and New Jersey residents during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Comfort has docked been at Pier 90 in New York City since March 30 to provide relief to the local healthcare system stressed by the surge of COVID-19 patients. Comfort was originally tasked with treating non-COVID patients, but just five days into its mission it was apparent that in order to provide the best care it would need treat all patients regardless of whether or not they had the virus. 

To help with the switch, Military Sealift Command civil service mariners physically separated the hospital portion from the rest of the ship by cordoning off doors and ladder wells on the main deck; reconfiguring the ship to admit and treat all patients.

“USNS Comfort arrived in New York City to provide relief to frontline healthcare providers, and each patient who was brought aboard ensured one more bed was available in a local hospital,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet and Maritime Component Element-East. “While the ship is departing New York City, make no mistake, the fight is not over, and we stand ready to support the response to COVID-19 in whatever capacity we are needed.”

While in New York, medical personnel treated 182 patients of which 70% were COVID-19 positive. More than 110 surgical procedures, 540 x-rays and CT-scans, and 1,300 intravenous and oral medications were performed, according the U.S. Navy. 

“The success of this mission in New York City hinged on coordination with FEMA, state and local officials and the partnership between Comfort, the Javits Center and hospitals across New York and New Jersey,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, mission commander of Task Force New York. “We all worked towards the common goal of ensuring that every patient who required care was able to receive it. The Comfort team is proud to help during these unprecedented times.”

Comfort will now return to its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, where the ship will return to a “Ready 5” status to remain ready for future tasking for COVID-19 operations in support of FEMA.

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