Project Hope in Banda Aceh: A Diary From the U.S.N.S. Mercy
The US Navy's hospital ship Mercy recently docked in Hawaii after helping survivors of the Asian tsunami, and an earthquake. From the blog Project Hope in Banda Aceh, below is a portion of a post entitled, "A diary from the U.S.N.S. Mercy," written by Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH. The whole post is worth reading, as it gives a good picture of the conditions under which the crew worked, and the variety of needs they had to deal with.
The blog itself (with many photos) is wonderful tribute to these medical folks, and the peaceful services rendered by the U.S. military to those in need on the far side of the world.
The medical care [on the ship] is really very good. The facilities are cramped but quite sophisticated. We have an amazing radiologist who can do interventional work and CT scans. We can do endoscopy, major orthopedic, ENT, general surgery, dental work, ophthalmologic surgery and other things. We have some limitations in our lab services -- no fancy serologies, for example -- and our pharmacy is obviously limited.
We're seeing a lot of very resistant bacteria. We've had E. coli bacteria sensitive only to imipenem and amikacin. But the major issue we are dealing with right now is how to take care of people who will need to go back to shore within seven to 10 days. That means no multistaged surgeries and no prolonged ICU stays.
As you might imagine, they have received truckloads of donated medications -- some will expire very soon. We are trying to help them find other groups who might be able to use them. Most of the donations, however, were of meds that donors thought would be useful in the disaster. Now they have oversupplies of some acute care meds but severe shortages of some basic medications, such as for hypertension and TB therapy.
We also have an incredibly photogenic 17-month-old boy who has a large scrape across his scalp. It has been open to the air to allow it to scab over, but it was failing to do so over several days, so we swabbed it two days ago. It is growing MRSA and two resistant gram-negative rods. So now he has a wound dressing on his head...and we're watching everyone else for resistant Staph.
We've had some real saves. One woman had a sinus infection that was taking up an area the size of a baseball just behind her left eye, and compressing parts of her brain, causing blindness and for her eyes to bulge out. We did a CT scan, drained the sinus surgically, put her on antibiotics. She will survive. Her vision will not be normal, but it will improve. If she had not been able to get the scan, she would have died in the very near term.
Linked to Open Post at Mudville Gazette.