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SIAU, Indonesia - Patients aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) are preparing to return home June 6 after receiving life-changing surgery, thanks to the Pacific Partnership 2012 mission.
Cmdr. Angela Kemp, head of patient discharge, said nearly 50 patients are ready for the next step in their care once they return home to Manado, Indonesia, after receiving surgery aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy.
"The biggest piece of the puzzle, when sending patients home, is the continuation of care," said Kemp. "We want to make sure the patients have all of the medication and supplies they need, as well as the knowledge to make sure they don't get infection and have a relapse after their surgeries."
Kemp said her team is well aware of the different home life situations people may face, so individual care programs are created for each patient.
"Some of the patients may not have support when they get back to Manado, so we are providing them with support and transportation home if they need it," she said.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcel Johnson said some of the patients may need help with the maintenance of their surgeries.
"We provide them with everything they need to know, as well as instructions for people that may need to help them with cleaning their wounds," said Johnson. "Sometimes they have a lot of questions for us, but we make sure to answer every one of them, so they understand what they need to do to heal properly."
Lt. j.g. Louella Van Ostol, a post-operation nurse, said patients are excited and eager to get home to show their changes, which are often dramatic.
"They are very excited about the surgeries they have received," said Van Ostol. "They want to see their families and show what the surgeries have done for them. In one example Nursia Langi, who had a large tumor over her eye when she arrived, saw herself for the first time in nearly a year through that same eye.
"She is extremely excited to go home and be able to see clearly again. She kept thanking us for what we have done and how much better her life is going to be, now that she is able to see clearly again," said Van Ostol.
Langi said she was very surprised when she saw herself in the mirror.
"I couldn't believe it was gone," she said. "I used to get headaches and feel dizzy because of the tumor, but now that it is gone, I no longer have to worry about that."
Van Ostol said many of the patients did not think they could be operated on in the first place.
"They thought it was a miracle we were able to operate on them," she said. "We are just happy we were able to help and send them back home to live, hopefully, better lives."
Surgeons aboard Mercy are expecting to receive another group of patients for surgery upon arrival in Manado.
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.