Mercy’s Mission continues for sailors in LA

Orange County COVID-19 response efforts. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rawad Madanat)

LOS ANGELES — In addition to the support hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) has provided to Los Angeles, some Sailors are currently treating patients in a few of the city’s skilled nursing facilities.

A detachment of 61 Sailors, including hospital corpsmen and nurses, have stepped up to one of the biggest challenges of their Navy career. Instead of treating service members at military hospitals or aboard ships, they are treating some of Los Angeles-area’s most coronavirus-vulnerable residents: the elderly.

Skilled nursing facilities are accredited, healthcare residences for those who require more medical care than an assisted living facility can provide.

“Our teams go out to outlying facilities and assess the needs in regard to infectious disease control,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Dominique Navarro, from Colorado Springs, Colo., the detachment’s senior enlisted leader. “They establish and implement control procedures and often provide direct, patient care.

The Sailors are making this mission their own.”

“The Sailors are working in facilities with patients who have tested positive for coronavirus,” Navarro added. “It is an extremely important job, and this is true healthcare. They are the essential, frontline workers.”

Recognition of the Sailors’ hard work was echoed throughout their chain of command.

“At the request of the State of California, we expanded our mission, sending personnel to care for patients in the skilled nursing facility,” said Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy’s Medical Treatment Facility’s commanding officer. “We have been able to support this additional tasking with no impact to our original mission. The medical personnel directed to the skilled nursing facility have been doing a tremendous job. They are another way that we have demonstrated the power of Navy Medicine on behalf of our country.”

Mercy deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, and serves as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore-based hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases. One of the Department of Defense’s missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DOD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people.