VIDEO: USNS Comfort Departs NYC After 30 Day Relief Effort

The hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed New York City on April 30 after spending 30 days in port supporting New York and New Jersey residents during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Comfort was saluted by New York’s Bravest and Finest as it sailed away, with an impressive array of vessels and vehicles on hand.

A ceremonial cannon salute was also fired off from Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn as it entered New York Harbor.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that the ship was no longer needed as stresses on the hospital system appeared to be easing.

“USNS Comfort arrived in New York City to provide relief to frontline healthcare providers, and each patient who was brought aboard ensured one more bed was available in a local hospital,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet and Maritime Component Element-East. “While the ship is departing New York City, make no mistake, the fight is not over, and we stand ready to support the response to COVID-19 in whatever capacity we are needed.”

Comfort is scheduled to return to Naval Station Norfolk, Va. where the ship will return to a “Ready 5” status, along with other U.S. Northern Command-dedicated forces to remain ready for future tasking for COVID-19 operations in support of FEMA.

The Comfort was originally tasked with providing care to non-COVID patients, bringing the first aboard on April 1. However the necessity to modify its mission toward treating all patients, regardless of COVID status, in order to be of maximum service to the city became apparent and the Comfort adapted quickly by separating the hospital from the rest of the ship by cordoning off doors and ladder wells on the main deck and reconfiguring the ship to admit and treat all patients.

‘This amazing crew of over 1,200 people treated 182 patients, of which approximately 70 percent were afflicted by COVID-19,” said Capt. Patrick Amersbach, commanding officer of the Comfort’s Medical Treatment Facility. “We were dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to each person who arrived at our hospital.”

More than 110 surgical procedures such as appendectomies, bronchoscopies, chest tube insertions, laparoscopic procedures, and tracheotomies were performed aboard the ship. Additionally, the Comfort’s radiology technicians performed more than 540 x-rays and CT-scans, while the pharmacy department prepared more than 1,300 intravenous and oral medications for the patients who received care aboard this ship. The ship’s supply department ensured the distribution of adequate numbers of personal protective equipment for all personnel, which were procured via a robust logistics system.

“The success of this mission in New York City hinged on coordination with FEMA, state and local officials and the partnership between Comfort, the Javits Center and hospitals across New York and New Jersey,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, mission commander of Task Force New York. “We all worked towards the common goal of ensuring that every patient who required care was able to receive it. The Comfort team is proud to help during these unprecedented times.”

The ship’s departure is a “sure sign of modest progress in mitigating the virus in the nation’s hardest-hit city and is a welcome sign,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told NBC New York.

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