Comfort Strengthens Partnership with Haiti Following Successful Medical Mission

Comfort Strengthens Partnership with Haiti Following Successful Medical Mission

By U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Bobby Siens
November 20, 2019

U.S. Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort departed Port-au-Prince, Haiti, following the completion of the ship’s 12th and final medical mission in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, November 11.

“Haiti is the last stop of the U.S. Navy’s Enduring Promise five-month mission in Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean,” said Michele Sison, U.S. ambassador to Haiti. “This visit has again displayed the strong ties between our two countries; as friends and neighbors, our two nations work together to make life better for all. We support the Haitian people’s aspirations for a better life. It truly is an enduring promise.”

During the six-day mission in Port-au-Prince, more than 900 medical professionals provided care for 3,603 patients at a shore-based medical site and performed 76 surgeries aboard the ship.

“Offering quality healthcare to a population suffering from all kinds of harm was the motivation of the USNS Comfort,” said Normil Rameau, general director of Haiti’s national police. “I want to emphasize the level of empathy and the degree of humanity the personnel of the hospital ship showed in the care provided to our brothers and sisters of Haiti.”

During the ship’s stop, they learned that a local hospital’s maternity program was in need of an important medicine.

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Jonathan Villanueva, assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), escorts a woman to be seen by medical staff at a temporary medical treatment site in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, November 6, 2019. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Maria G. Llanos)

“We were informed through formal channels that there was a patient with eclampsia,” said Commander Todd Morris, director of medical services aboard Comfort. “The treatment is to provide an anti-seizure medication, specifically magnesium sulfate. We were able to find the medicine and transport it safely to the hospital to help the patient.”

The medicine was able to help multiple patients and local aide providers were exceptionally appreciative.

“You can imagine how stymied we were, as a high-risk maternity center,” said Father Rick Frechette, an American priest and founder of St. Luke Foundation Hospital. “We take our hats off to [Comfort], for coming to our rescue with this life-saving drug.”

Comfort’s team consists of more than 900 personnel, including medical specialists from the U.S. military, nongovernmental organizations (NGO) volunteers, and personnel from partner nations. The entire Comfort team is comprised of military and civilian personnel from the United States and partner nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru, as well as several NGOs creating a dynamic team capable of delivering a variety of services.

U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, visited the crew to thank them for the work put forth during their visit to Port-au-Prince.

“Each of you should leave this mission knowing that you made a difference,” said Adm. Faller. “I’m proud for the difference that we made here in Haiti; every little bit matters.”

This marks the sixth Comfort visit to Haiti and the seventh to the region since 2007. This deployment is a part of the U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the United States’ ongoing commitment to friendship, partnership, and solidarity with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.