SAN PEDRO (CBSLA) — After seven weeks at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro treating non-coronavirus patients, the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship is expected to depart Friday.
"The medical professionals aboard Mercy are proud and humbled to have assisted FEMA, the State of California, Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles, while serving as a 'relief valve' to the community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," Capt. John Rotruck, commanding officer, Medical Treatment Facility USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), said. "Every patient brought aboard created one more available bed in a local hospital."
The hospital ship was initially deployed to the port to treat non-COVID patients so land-based regional hospitals would have the capacity to handle an expected surge as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
And while the vessel will depart to return to its home port in San Diego, medical personnel from the ship will remain in the region to support the state's ongoing response.
According to the Governor's Office of Emergency services, there will be four six-member medical support teams deployed for critical needs — including skilled nursing facilities where a number of personnel were previously sent in response to increases outbreaks — and 40 medical staffers at a state-operated site at the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa.
"Our work to protect public health and safety is far from done, but having the Mercy and its highly-trained medical personnel stationed in the most populous region of the state was critical to our ability to respond in the first stages of the pandemic," Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said. "We thank our colleagues in the U.S. Navy, FEMA and the federal administration for their support in allowing us to use the Mercy."
The ship's deployment to the Los Angeles area was not without issue. Early last month, a man was accused of derailing a locomotive in an attempt to crash into the ship and at least seven crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
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