US Hospital Ship Returning to the Americas

USNS Comfort returning to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean in June 2019
Operating room aboard a us navy ship
South America (Vax Before Travel)

The U.S. Navy announced the hospital ship USNS Comfort will soon return to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean for its 7th medical assistance deployment in the Americas since 2007.   

According to a May 23, 2019 press release, the USNS Comfort will depart ‘mid-June’ 2019 to begin a 5-month medical assistance mission related to the humanitarian crisis created by the ongoing instability in Venezuela.

The USNS Comfort is 1 of just 2 Hospital Ships of the Navy. Both ships are maintained by the Military Sealift Command and are part of the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force. 

U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which will oversee the deployment, said: “Comfort medical teams will be working alongside host nation medical professionals who are absorbing thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.” 

Vaccine-preventable diseases are surging in Venezuela, according to new research presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, on April 16, 2019.   

As an example, emigrating individuals with infectious diseases may be unknowingly causing a spill-over of diseases beyond Venezuela's boundaries. In Venezuela, there is reported measles and diptheria.

The embarked USNS Comfort medical teams will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems strained partly by an increase in cross-border migrants. 

The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity throughout the Americas. 

Previously, from October to December 2018, the USNS Comfort completed its 6th medical support deployment to Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Honduras, helping more than 26,700 patients in need, including 599 onboard surgeries. 

The USNS Comfort has 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000-bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT scan, and 2 oxygen-producing plants.   

During this mission, the USNS Comfort medical teams will visit Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago for working port visits.