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Offshore Clinic Treats Few Patients


Offshore Clinic Treats Few Patients
By Nicholas Casey | WSJ

ABOARD THE U.S.S. CARL VINSON--Seven earthquake victims from Haiti, including a newborn baby, were being treated Saturday evening in a state-of-the-art, 50-bed medical clinic aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson--the first non-American victims believed to be treated since the carrier's arrival Friday morning.

Lack of medical facilities and doctors for tens of thousands of injured people in the decimated Haitian capital is one of the major problems facing aid efforts in the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake. U.S. Naval officials said earlier Saturday that the Vinson nevertheless didn't plan to take on care of earthquake victims, and was awaiting arrival of a ship with more operating rooms to arrive Sunday or Monday and a hospital ship to arrive a few days later on Thursday.

Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy 4th Fleet, the headquarters responsible for naval actions in Haiti, said Saturday afternoon that the Vinson's primary mission is using its 19 helicopters to ferry supplies onshore. Using the carrier as a floating hospital, he said, "would completely change the mission of the carrier. That could potentially impact the [carrier's current] mission."...

Cmdr. Alfred Shwayhat, the senior medical officer who is an endocrinologist, said he had a plan to "treat 1,000 Haitians if necessary," when interviewed aboard the ship on Saturday. But he had received no orders to do so. "If the captain authorizes it, I will take anyone," he said. The Vinson's facility, he said, "exceeds anything in the civilian sector, bar none." Read more.

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