SAN PEDRO (CBSLA) — Hospital ship USNS Mercy left San Diego Monday afternoon and is expected to arrive at the Port of Los Angeles Friday morning to alleviate stress on local hospitals treating coronavirus patients.
"This is referred to as a transfer hospital site where patients that are already in facilities in and around Los Angeles and other areas of Los Angeles County will be transferred to the USS Mercy for ongoing treatment," Port Police Chief Thomas Gazsi said.
The ship, originally slated to dock in Washington state, was redirected by President Donald Trump at the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
California is expected to see a surge in COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has previously said the state is in need of an additional 50,000 hospital beds. The USNS Mercy will provide 1,000 additional beds, 12 operating rooms and 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff.
The staff aboard the ship will be able to provide a wide range of services including critical and urgent care for adults, but will not provide obstetric or pediatric care.
"We'll meet every need that's necessary to ensure appropriate medical care for those that are arriving regionally to the USS Mercy," Gazsi said
Navy officials said the medical personnel, many of whom have not worked together before, have been conducting drills and readying the hospital for patients who will arrive by ground ambulance from regional hospitals.
"Patients will be rotated out of regional hospitals on a case-by-case basis," Gazsi said. "The tempo in which that occurs will occur over several days. It won't be a rush of patients coming in at one time."
And with the ship docking to treat patients, port officials said they are still open for business.
"We also must keep our supply chains moving to get essential goods to our consumers and medical supplies to our hospital community and those who are caring for our ill," Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles executive director, said.
While Seroka said the port is handling 80% of its normal cargo for this time of year and was expecting that lighter flow to continue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, he said the flow "at the nation's largest port will not be impeded."
The USNS Mercy is expected to arrive Friday morning, as early at 8:30 a.m. according to Navy officials, and is expected to be in service by Saturday.
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