As a United States Navy hospital ship, USNS Mercy, has arrived Los Angeles to help relieve the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, those on board are making final preparations.
According to the Pentagon, the USNS Mercy, which was docked in San Diego, will arrive in Los Angeles on Friday to “serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients” who are currently hospitalized on land.
“They’re telling us to expect a wide range of medical and surgical patients being transferred from local hospitals,” Navy Capt. John Rotruck said in a phone interview Thursday with “Fox & Friends.”
“Once we get there, we’re going to work with FEMA as the lead agency and the state of California local health authorities to take non-COVID 19 patients to act as a relief valve for local hospitals so that they can focus their energy and resources for taking care of coronavirus patients,” Rotruck told Fox News.
Pentagon officials previously explained that while the two California ports are only 55 nautical miles apart and the voyage usually takes about five hours, medical ships need time to train medical staff and “complete required certifications.”
Rotruck told Fox News that the Mercy has “just under 1,000 military staff,” together with 76 civilian mariners. According to Rotruck, two-thirds of the staff on board the vessel are medical and another third is non-medical to “support the patient care mission.”
“We are very well equipped to deliver a broad range of medical and physical services to the patients who come to us,” he told “Fox & Friends.”
The features onboard the Mercy include 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000 hospital beds, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen-producing plants.
The Navy’s hospital ships – Mercy and sister ship on the East Coast, USNS Comfort – are equipped with a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters and also have side ports to take on patients at sea.