The Chilean Navy’s multipurpose ship LSDH-91 Sargento Aldea deployed in mid-June as a hospital ship off the coast of Valparaíso in central Chile to provide health care to non-COVID-19 patients. The ship’s mission is to free up beds at local hospitals so that they can focus on the most urgent cases of COVID-19, and also prevent contagion among patients who do not have the coronavirus.
The ship began to provide services on June 22, and has a team of 10 Navy nurses and surgeons on board to carry out medium complexity medical procedures, working together with civilian doctors, nurses, and health technicians. According to a report from the Ministry of Health published June 30, Valparaíso is the region with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in Chile, after the Metropolitan region.
Before arriving to Valparaíso, between early April to mid-June, the Sargento Aldea provided support off the Talcahuano coast in the Biobío region, in the south of the country, where the medical team conducted 63 surgeries of low and medium complexity, the Navy said on its Facebook page on June 21.
“The ship has all the necessary facilities to perform these surgeries and protect patients who still need operations and cannot get them in the hospitals where they live, due to the coronavirus situation,” Chilean Navy Lieutenant Marina López, a surgeon on board the Sargento Aldea, said in a video the Navy posted on Facebook.
According to the Navy’s website, the Sargento Aldea, since its acquisition from France in 2011, serves as a medical and transport vessel for units deployed in humanitarian assistance operations. The ship has 22 hospital beds, two surgery wards, an X-ray room, a sterilization room, a burn unit, and a dental clinic.
“We have prepared logistically to go anywhere in Chile to provide support to the health network, so that [civilian] health personnel can focus their efforts on assisting COVID-19 patients,” Chilean Navy Captain Gastón González, commanding officer of the Sargento Aldea, told the news portal Infodefensa.