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USNS Mercy Accepts First Patients in Port of Los Angeles

The ship will provide a wide range of medical care including general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults.

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The USNS Mercy, a Navy hospital ship docked in the Port of Los Angeles, opened its doors to its first patients Sunday, officials announced.

Requested by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the USNS Mercy Hospital ship will serve as a referral hospital in LA and carries trained medical workers and resources that will take care of non-COVID-19 related illnesses.

The ship will provide a wide range of medical care including general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults. The ship's purpose is to ease the burden on area hospitals dealing with the growing coronavirus pandemic. As of Sunday, LA County had more than 2,100 confirmed cases of the virus.

Photos: About the USNS Mercy, the Navy’s Floating Hospital Deploying to the Port of LA

The shift of non-COVID-19 patients to the Mercy expects to help hospitals prioritize the usage of intensive care units (ICU) and ventilators.

"I couldn't be more proud of our crew for all the hard work they did to get us here and ready in such a short time," said Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy's Military Treatment Facility commanding officer. "Being able to accept our first patients is a true testament of the teamwork between Mercy, the Navy, the State of California, the county of Los Angeles, and the City and Port of L.A."

Cpl. Alexa M. Hernandez
(March 29, 2020) U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Schumacher, a rifleman with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, guides an ambulance toward the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) in Los Angeles March 29. The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore base hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases. One of the Department of Defense’s missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexa M. Hernandez/Released)

According to the statement provided by the Navy’s Third Fleet, the USNS Mercy includes a team of “Navy medical and support staff assembled from 22 commands, as well as over 70 civil service mariners.”

"The men and women embarked on board Mercy are energized, eager, and ready to provide relief to those in need," Rotruck said.

Although the Mercy’s primary mission is to provide a mobile and capable surgical medical facility to the U.S. Military, the ship has been mobilized to provide full hospital services in the event of a national emergency and to support U.S. disaster relief.

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