PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) anchored off the coast of Port Au Prince, marking the start of Continuing Promise 2015's (CP-15) final mission stop on Sept. 10.
Military and government officials and Haitian citizens attended an opening ceremony held at the Admiral Killick Coast Guard Station in Port Au Prince to kick off the eleventh mission stop.
This is the sixth time the Continuing Promise mission has visited Haiti.
Prior to CP-15, five Continuing Promise missions have been conducted in Haiti to provide medical, engineering, veterinary and humanitarian support, with the most recent occurring in 2011. Prior to that, Comfort responded in 2010 to support Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE following the earthquake in Haiti.
Comfort is back in Port Au Prince with CP-15 joint-military crew members and non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers, partnering alongside Haitian volunteers and various host nation ministry representatives to provide medical care at medical sites established at the Admiral Killick Coast Guard Station and St. Luc Hospital, both in Port Au Prince.
"The Continuing Promise 15 mission stop in Port Au Prince will build upon the strong relationships developed throughout the region. We are dedicated to working together with our Haitian friends and partners to provide care to the people of Haiti," said Capt. Sam Hancock, CP-15 mission commander. "The collaboration between the CP-15 team and our Haitian counterparts at each site is providing much needed care for the people of Haiti."
During the first two days of mission operations, 36 surgeries were completed aboard Comfort and more than 3,400 patients were cared for between the two medical sites.
"We are here to deliver care to the people in Port Au Prince alongside our Ministry of Health counterparts in an effort to continue strengthening our partnerships and relationships," said Capt. Andrew Nelson, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, and officer in charge of the medical site established at Admiral Killick Coast Guard Station.
"We set up our medical site with different services, to include adult medicine, pediatric medicine, dental care and optometry, along with a variety of sub-specialties. We are working together in order to deliver the most efficient means of care to as many citizens as possible during the mission stop."
Comfort medical teams will also engage in subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) during the Haiti mission stop. Army veterinarians and technicians along with veterinarians from the NGO, World Vets, plan to attend a rabies seminar in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control. The environmental health team aboard Comfort plans to collaborate and exchange information with the Haiti National Public Health Laboratory on multiple topics during the stop.
"During the pre-deployment site survey conducted in 2014, ideas where explored on how to partner and strengthen relationships between the Comfort staff and providers from Bernard Mevs, State, St. Damien's and St. Luc's Hospitals," said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Jones, the training and readiness officer aboard Comfort assigned to Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit- 2 in Norfolk. "Over 50 subject matter expert exchanges were scheduled at the four hospitals in Port au Prince. Collaborations include numerous Resuscitative Medicine classes, symposiums, seminars and one-on-one physician and nurse exchanges, to include a women's health seminar and mass casualty tabletop exercise."
Along with the medical SMEEs and care provided at the two sites, another site has been set up to provide engineering support. The site was established at the Institution Mixte Larozar et Debora, where Navy Seabees assigned to Construction Battalion Mobile Unit (CBMU) 202 are completing projects to include the construction of an awning, nesting boxes, partition walls and the installation of a water pump and cistern.
Additionally, CP-15 team members will take part in various COMRELs alongside NGO volunteers to donate shoes, stuffed animals, coloring books and soccer balls, complete a paint project and conduct a dental hygiene education presentation at the Haiti Children's Hope school. Additional COMREL projects will take place at the Ministry of Sports and Youth in Petionville and at the Operation Love the Children Orphanage (OLTCH) in Leogane.
"Serving in the communities of Haiti through COMREL projects is just one way we are able to build and sustain relationships that can be revisited on future CP missions. This is our final stop, so we are giving it our all, including our time and resources to make these community events leave a lasting impact and impression," said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Coreson, a native of Soldonta, Alaska, assigned to Naval Hospital Pensacola, Florida.
Since deploying in April, Comfort has completed mission stops in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Dominica and Honduras. To date, more than 110,000 patients have been cared for and more than 1,100 surgeries have been performed aboard Comfort.
Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
For more news from Continuing Promise, visit www.navy.mil/local/cp/.