Hospital ship USNS Mercy visits Samar
CATBALOGAN CITY — The San Diego-based Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy is now in the province of Samar as part of their four-month humanitarian mission to four Asian nations.
Accordingly, the vessel would visit Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam in the seventh year of the program called Pacific Partnership, according to the US Navy.
Today, while moored at Calbayog City port, several surgical operations on board and medical and dental visitation to Samar municipalities, particularly in this city, have been scheduled. The MEDCAP includes services on medical, dental, optometry, women’s health, and general out-patient consultation.
From June 18-24, the enlistment of possible patients will take place as Surgical Civic Action Programs (SURGCAP) will only be held in Calbayog City. Actual surgeries will be performed on-board the USNS Mercy ship after the enlistment.
Catbalogan health authorities said medical consultations and free check-ups will be held on June 25 to 30 this year at the Silanga Elementary School, Barangay Silanga, among other locations.
City Health Officer Dr. Amali Tirazona said the MEDCAP is set to cater at most 40 patients per day and will further be assisted by Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN HEALS) nurses stationed at the City Health Office.
Catbalogan Councilor Stephany Tan also revealed there were also a series of sub-activities relative to the Pacific Partnership 2012 scheduled in this city in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the goal of the program is to build relationships that will help in the event of a natural disaster.
“A lot of planning and coordination among host and partner nation governments and military, civilian organizations and agencies have gone into getting us to this point,” said Capt. James Morgan, the mission commander.
The team was guided with the theme: “Preparing in calm to respond in crisis.”
Converted from an oil tanker in the mid 1980s, the Mercy first saw duty in the Persian Gulf War. Following that deployment, it left its berth at Naval Base San Diego.
However, the 2004 tsunami that struck Indonesia prompted the hospital ship to return to the area every year since.
The Mercy carries about 400 Naval medical personnel, along with civilian crew members with the Maritime Sealift Command. Crew members on the Mercy will provide medical, dental and veterinary care in the host nations and help with civil engineering projects.
Pacific Partnership also includes personnel from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps; U.S. State and Justice Departments, Agency for International Development and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Japan will contribute a landing ship, helicopters, a medical team and representatives from the country’s volunteer organizations.
Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will also deploy personnel in support of the mission.
Other organizations scheduled to take part include the UC San Diego Pre-Dental Society, a student-run free dental clinic; Project Hope, which launched the first civilian hospital ship, LDS Charities; and the University of Hawaii. (Ricky Bautista)
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