Haitians Seek Hope on Navy's Floating Hospital

USNS Comfort 'seeing infections most people never see in whole career'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2010 2:00 PM CST
Medical professionals aboard the USNS Comfort treat a six-year-old Haitian boy Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010.   (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Timothy Wilson)
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(Newser) – The most advanced hospital treating Haitian earthquake victims isn’t actually in Haiti—it’s floating offshore. The USNS Comfort, the flagship of the US relief effort, is currently treating roughly 450 people, and giving hope to thousands more on land. “We can’t save everyone, but we’re trying,” says the ship’s ethics officer, who happens to be Haitian. “Haiti’s going to be rebuilt. It really is. And some of these people are going to help.”

The quake has also laid bare Haiti’s existing suffering. In one case, doctors wrestled over whether to treat an infant with a head massively swollen by hydrocephalus. If not for the quake, the ethics officer notes, “the kid would never have left the house.” Neglect has also exacerbated many patients' illnesses. “We’re seeing infections that most people never see in their whole medical career,” says one surgeon. “It’s amazing to me that some of these people are alive.”

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