Pacific Partnership 2010 Initiates First Surgeries Onboard Hospital Ship
QUY NHON, Vietnam - Pacific Partnership 2010 opened its operating rooms onboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) June 1 so its surgical teams could perform the first of many surgeries scheduled while the ship is anchored off the central coastal city of Quy Nhon, Vietnam.
Doctors onboard Mercy are expecting to perform at least 100 surgeries during the 13-day visit to the city of Quy Nhon located in the Binh Dinh province.
Army Lt. Col. Francis Cannizzo, a surgeon with the 405th Combat Support Hospital, in Worcester, Mass., performed gall bladder surgery on a woman from Vietnam. This type of surgery reduces the amount of time patients feel sick and also increases the kind of food they can eat comfortably.
“There are a number of life-threatening complications that could result from gall bladder disease,” said Cannizzo. “Like this one, however, in the majority of cases it is a quality of life issue.”
It is the little improvements that have life-altering results.
Mercy’s first patient, Nguyen Loan, a 65-year-old retired shopkeeper and grandmother of seven from Quy Nhon, Vietnam, first read about the medical help and the opportunity to visit Mercy on a notice board.
“I have had pain in my stomach for almost a month,” said Loan. “I registered to go and waited to hear them announce my name on the radio to see if I was accepted.”
She was very excited to hear her name on the radio and took her first boat ride to the Mercy.
“This is my first time on a boat and it is very nice,” Loan said. “All of the doctors and nurses have been very nice and I am glad I came.”
Loan is looking forward to going home and playing with her grandchildren, an activity she found difficult to do before, she said.
Pacific Partnership 2010 surgeons carefully screen patients to ensure that that they will fully recover and be able to resume their daily lives upon departing the floating hospital.
“We have a complete range of surgical specialists with the exception of heart surgery and neurosurgery,” said Director for Surgical Services, Cmdr. Trent Douglas. “We are on station for only a short time, so we perform procedures that allow rapid recovery.”
While it is only the beginning for Mercy’s surgeons as they help alleviate patients’ physical distress, they seek to leave a more permanent impression along the way.
“We are not out here solely doing surgery; we are building relationships,” Douglas said. “We are working alongside our NGO colleagues, our host and partner nation colleagues to be able to respond in times of crisis quickly and efficiently.”
Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.