Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Volunteers Stay Busy on Floating Hospital Ship

While some Project HOPE volunteers are running the remote triage sites ashore, many more are engaged in helping to keep the USNS Comfort’s six operating rooms(OR) up and running. Some nurses are in Casualty Receiving (CASREC), the first place a patient will go once she lands on Comfort’s flight deck. Some, like Addy Wakeman, keep the pre-op ward, where patients stay the night before their surgery (as it is affectionately called “The Hotel”), running efficiently. Still others help in the OR, or in Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), where I found HOPE volunteers Amy Bream and Elizabeth Roughead today, or in (Intensive Care)ICU, where patients are moved after coming out of PACU, which is where I tracked down Elie Malloy.

I moved backwards through the flow today, meeting Elie in ICU first. Elie’s main patient was an El Salvadorian woman who underwent a hysterectomy yesterday. Her husband was always close at hand, especially when Elie moved her or shifted her position with the help of the other nurses in the ICU. When it was removed, her uterus was about twice the size of a normal woman’s, and filled with fibroids. Now, everything is tracking well and she is scheduled for normal discharge tomorrow.

In PACU, I found Amy and Elizabeth bringing a patient up from anesthesia. He had come in to have his cataracts removed, and was just a step away from moving down to visit Elie at the ICU. His body temperature was 96.5—0.3 degrees lower than the regulations consider manageable enough to move away from the OR (PACU). Cataracts usually come in pairs, so the floating hospital will usually do the surgeries over two days (to keep the patients from having to undergo two surgeries in one day), so Jose Diaz and his wife will be with us through the weekend.

I then went to the front of the patient flow (and, incidentally, the front of the ship—Comfort was designed to streamline the receiving process: CASREC is in front of the Hotel is forward of the OR’s are forward of PACU, and all on the same level. Only ICU and Discharge are one floor down, but patients will only go there after time has ceased to be critical). At the Hotel, I found Addy Wakeman holding down the fort. A Medical Telemetry (post-op) nurse by trade, she’s just getting the feel for the rhythm and needs of the Comfort pre-op ward. The Hotel was only about half-full today, though the nurses there have seen a patient in every rack, plus as many cots as they could put out as well. That week, the surgeons operated on 241 people in 10 days—a record even by Comfort standards.

Thanks for reading-Jacob

1 comment:

  1. My name is Patricia Mancia from El Salvador and I am proud of letting you know that I worked with Amy Bream in the PACU as a volunteer translator. It is a great job the one you do for our country!