When the medical ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York earlier this week, it was thought that it would immediately help beleaguered doctors and nurses who are fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it has barely taken on patients.
Trump made sure he got a photo-op and campaign commercial out of the deal when he showed up to see the Comfort off, even touting it and the capabilities it possessed while portraying himself as a hero who cares about New York.
“In a few moments, the crew of the Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort — which is really something — will embark for New York City, where they will join the ranks of tens of thousands of amazing doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who are battling to save American lives,” he said during a speech. “This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York — a place I know very well, a place I love. We’re here for you, we’re fighting for you, and we are with you all the way, and we always will be. You have the unwavering support of the entire nation, the entire government, and the entire American people.”
The USNS Comfort has been present in New York City for days now as hospitals continue to remain overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. The ship is supposed to relieve pressure by taking in non-coronavirus patients. The USNS Mercy, which was sent to Los Angeles, is supposed to do the same job. But, so far, both ships have taken on very few patients.
According to Newsweek:
The ship, equipped with 1,000 hospital beds and 1,200 medical workers, has reportedly only taken 20 patients aboard since it began operations on April 1, with hundreds of beds on the ship remaining unused.
The U.S.N.S. Mercy, which docked in Los Angeles with the mission last Friday and is equipped with 800 medical staff, has treated a total of 15 patients, five of whom have been discharged, the ship’s commanding officer Capt. John Rotruck said.
Michael Dowling, the president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health, New York’s largest hospital system, told the Times, ‘If I’m blunt about it, it’s a joke. Everyone can say, “Thank you for putting up these wonderful places and opening up these cavernous halls.” But we’re in a crisis here, we’re in a battlefield… It’s pretty ridiculous,’ he said. ‘If you’re not going to help us with the people we need help with, what’s the purpose?'”
Indeed, the purpose appears to be to make it merely look like Trump is doing something to help. But the fact is that neither ship is really helping at all because it’s coronavirus patients that hospitals need help with the most.
‘With New York placed under lockdown, there are less patients suffering from car accidents and gunshot wounds or other accidents requiring emergency care. Therefore, there are fewer non-virus patients to send to the U.S.N.S. Comfort, as the city copes with thousands of people infected with the virus,’ Dowling said.”
Meanwhile, medical personnel on both ships are forced to watch and do nothing as major coastal cities suffer. The commanders of the vessels say they are willing to take on coronavirus patients if ordered to do so. The ships would merely be required to reconfigure to handle the patients. The question is does Trump care enough to make it happen.
Featured image via screen capture
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