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LOS ANGELES — “I woke up here and I don’t even know how I got here,” Joshua Davis said, while bundled in white hospital sheets at the end of his lower bunk bed.
After biking nearly 12 miles from Long Beach to Compton at 4 a.m., Davis was found fallen over the sword he’d been stabbed with. Paramedics immediately transported Davis to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he spent two days. At this point he was transferred to the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19)—docked at the port of Los Angeles—in order to complete his care and free up a hospital bed in case a COVID-positive patient needed it.
Davis says he remembers only up to the moment of the incident and then suddenly waking up in one of the 15 recovery wards aboard Mercy. He specifically recalls being in bed number 79, slowly realizing everything that happened to him. He wouldn’t have thought that after being stabbed, not only would he be alive, but he would also be aboard a hospital ship from San Diego.
“When we received him, he had already been treated for his laceration from his right abdomen slashed through to his left side with his intestines protruding,” said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Sehorn, the provider called at 3 a.m. with the notice of Davis’ arrival to the ship. “The other hospital was successful in stopping the bleeding, treating his wound and saving his life.”
Later, Sehorn and his team were able to identify and recognize a smaller but similarly deadly incision to Davis’ small intestine.
“When you leak from your colon, it creates a massive amount of infection in your abdomen,” said Sehorn. “Once that occurs there’s a snowball effect and a rapid decline of health, making it life threatening.”
Davis has gone through an additional exploratory laparotomy procedure and has been recovering on the Mercy for approximately four weeks. An exploratory laparotomy is a surgical operation where the abdomen is opened and the abdominal organs examined for injury or disease. During his time aboard, Davis has been seen in an operating room, an intensive care unit, and an interventional radiology suite.
“It used to hurt when I would yawn or lay down, but now I feel like I can breathe better which is helping me sleep too,” Davis said.
Mercy’s wards aren’t exactly like shore hospital rooms that come equipped with cable television and sunrise window views; the ship’s primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services in support of service members deployed ashore, and naval amphibious task forces and battle forces afloat.
Davis spends most of his time practicing his artistic abilities, sketching football players and pit bulls. In an effort to make him more comfortable, hospital corpsmen have draped extra bed sheets to diffuse some of the light in the ward, giving him additional privacy. While he has been able to communicate with his family, they haven’t been able to come aboard the ship, so he has yet to see anyone since he was admitted.
“It’s been boring here, but I’m grateful for the people who work here and who’ve been taking care of me,” Davis said.
He now awaits approval from the Mercy providers to be discharged.
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 base 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.
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