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MacKenzie Babb | Baltimore, Maryland 26 March 2010
US Navy Hospital Ship 'Comfort' returns to its homeport in Baltimore
The US Navy hospital ship Comfort returned Friday to its homeport in Baltimore. Families, friends and community members came out in support of the crew and medical personnel who returned from a nearly two-month medical mission to Haiti.
The hospital ship was greeted with fanfare as it pulled into its homeport after a seven-week medical mission to Haiti.
The Comfort arrived on the coast of Haiti in January to find a country destroyed after the magnitude 7 earthquake.
During the mission, the ship's medical personnel treated close to a thousand seriously injured Haitians.
Crew member Kenneth Leahey says working in the midst of the disaster meant the ship had a great impact. "I feel like we made a really great difference one thing it really drives home is that we all need each other, one way or another. We need to put all differences aside and take care of each other," he said.
Gregory Scott Peterson 2nd came to the homecoming with his school. He praised the sailors for doing just that. "No matter what, we always pull through if we pick each other up," he stated.
The mission focused on treating the most critically injured patients in order to free up Haitian hospitals for those with less severe injuries. The commanding officer of the ship's medical facility is Captain James Ware.
"We probably were able to help a distilled amount of about 1,000 people who were the worst of the worst patients, and we were able to make a difference in their lives," he explained. "We believe that we saved many lives and repaired to function many limbs."
Lesley Prasad, a leading operating room officer, shows the picture a Haitian man sketched while being treated in the hospital as a way for him to say thank you.
Although death and destruction flood the foreground, the Comfort can be seen approaching on the horizon.
"Everybody used that picture as a motivational tool of why we're truly here, because regardless of what's going on and how devastating it is, there are still people that recognize and believe that the Comfort is here to help them," Prasad said.
The Haiti mission marked the first time in the Comfort's 23 year history that it operated at full capacity.
Doctors performed more than 800 surgeries, with more than 1,500 medical and non-medical personnel involved in the mission.