On March 31, the USNS Comfort arrived at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York. It is a military hospital ship, and is to be used as a form of relief for hospitals that are currently being overloaded with coronavirus patients. If you’re curious about what the ship is, what it will be doing or any other aspect of it, let’s look at the details.
Who will go on the ship?
The initial plan for the USNS Comfort was to be a floating hospital for those needing attention that was unrelated to coronavirus. By separating the two classes of patients, the spread of the virus would go down. It would also allow many more hospital beds for those with the virus, as this is a serious problem in an area like New York City.
So, no coronavirus patients?
Well, that was originally the idea. However, hospital leaders have begun to think that separating the patients isn’t a realistic plan, and they are asserting that the Comfort should take on COVID-19 patients. Following this, Governor Cuomo appealed to President Trump on April 2 to allow those with the virus to be treated on the ship. Trump approved this plan.
How does someone get on it?
It will not function like a traditional hospital; that is to say, you cannot walk up and expect medical assistance, even if you have severe COVID-19 symptoms. Instead, the ship will coordinate with other hospitals to receive patients. It is expected that there will be lots of patients transferred from the Manhattan convention center to the USNS Comfort.
How many people can it help?
The ship is only really limited by how many beds it has, and it has 1000. There are 1100 medical personnel on the ship that will be dedicated to serving whoever it is that is transferred to the ship.
Are there more ships like this?
Yes. There is currently a sister ship, the USNS Mercy, that is docked in Los Angeles that is accepting patients. There are also several cruise lines that are in communication with U.S. government about offering their vessels to be used as floating hospitals; it remains to be seen how this will play out.
Both the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercyhave been slow to take on patients, and it’s unclear if this is due to arguments about whether or not to allow those afflicted with coronavirus aboard. Still, their numbers are increasing, and we expect to see them being used to their full abilities very soon.