The mission of the 894-foot U.S.N.S. Comfort has ended, but it leaves behind questions about whether it was adequately used during a time of desperate medical need, according to an article on The New York Times website.
The ship was prepared to support 250 hospital beds, but during its 53-day deployment, which included travel to and from the island, it admitted an average of only six patients a day, or 290 in total. An additional 1,625 people were treated aboard the ship as outpatients, all at no cost. the article said.
Its mission and capabilities were not clear to many doctors on the island and the ship lacked the ability to treat some important areas of need. Plus, the complex referral procedures were difficult with shaky power and telephone service.
There was also the reluctance of some hospitals to lose their own patients.
“They were prepared for anything other than the reality of Puerto Rico,” said José Vargas Vidot, a doctor and independent senator in the Puerto Rican Senate whose charitable organization, Iniciativa Comunitaria, supported the post-hurricane medical clinic .
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