USNS Mercy leaves San Diego for LA to support coronavirus response

Coronavirus
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SAN DIGO — The hospital ship USNS Mercy departed Naval Station San Diego Monday for Los Angeles in support of the nation’s coronavirus pandemic response efforts.

“This global crisis demands whole of government response, and we are ready to support,” said Navy Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy’s military treatment facility commanding officer.

“Mercy brings a team of medical professionals, medical equipment and supplies, all of which will act, in essence, as a `relief valve’ for local civilian hospitals in Los Angeles so that local health professionals can better focus on COVID-19 cases.

“We will use our agility and responsiveness as an afloat medical treatment facility to do what the country asks, and bring relief where we are needed most.”

Mercy departed Naval Base San Diego with more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff with the afloat medical treatment facility, and more than 70 civil service mariners who operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the medical facility up and running.

The ship and its staff will not treat patients with the coronavirus but will offer a broad range of medical and surgical support, with the exceptions of obstetrics and pediatrics, said Real Adm. Timothy Weber, the commander of the Naval Medical Corps Pacific and director of the Medical Service Corps.

The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients admitted to shore-based hospitals and will provide a full spectrum of medical care including general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults.

The Mercy’s presence will allow Los Angeles-area health professionals to focus on treating coronavirus patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their intensive care units and ventilators for those patients, Weber said.

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