Hospital ship USNS Mercy leaves Los Angeles

May 15 (UPI) — The Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy left Los Angeles on Friday after serving as assistance to area hospitals dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mercy departed the World Cruise Center Terminal of the Port of Los Angeles for San Diego, its home base, after treating a wide variety of patients. Several surgeries, including the ship’s first pacemaker replacement procedure, were performed.

The 1,000-bed hospital ship arrived on March 27, not to treat COVID-19 patients but to handle other patient concerns as local hospitals dealt with the virus. The vessel is now expected to return to its home port in San Diego.

Over the course of its six weeks in port in Los Angeles, the vessel treated a total of 77 patients, including 36 surgeries overall, USNI reported.

“We came to Los Angeles to be the relief valve for local hospitals in the fight against COVID-19,” Capt. John Rotruck, commanding officer of the hospital’s onboard Medical Treatment Facility, said in a statement. “I am very impressed with how well the team came together on this rapid response mission, completing a wide-range of high-quality medical procedures from orthopedic surgeries to interventional radiology.”

Over 60 of the ship’s personnel will remain in Los Angeles to assist local medical efforts in skilled nursing homes and a state alternative care site, California’s Office of Emergency Services said on Thursday.

“After arriving on station, the personnel aboard Mercy were able to safely execute our mission in support of FEMA and in coordination with state and local authorities,” said Capt. Dan Cobian, the ship’s mission commander. “In addition to supporting Los Angeles-area hospitals, we were able to expand our mission by providing support to a local skilled nursing facility and we also sent personnel to aid USNS Comfort for their effort in New York.”

The USNS Comfort had a similar mission in deploying to New York City. It treated 182 patients, the last discharged on April 26. The ship departed on April 30.

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