Posted By: Alyson Landry on July 1, 2011

Labels: Nicaragua , Volunteers

As the seas kept up a fast pace today, the helicopters had to discontinue transporting patients from the USNS Comfort to shore. So, getting patients off the ship presented a few challenges for Project HOPE’s Operations Officer, Christy Manso.

As a part of the discharge process, patients wait after post-op to get instructions on the medicine they will be taking off the ship. They are then moved to casualty receiving wards, where the boats will arrive for transport. However, because of the choppy seas Manso learned some new Spanish phrases.

 “Otra vez!” she would call out as the patients had to be moved back and forth from waiting room to waiting room. Discharge thought the patients would have to stay the night because the seas were too rough to transport, but a pocket of time opened up and the shuffle soon began. And again she called out “one more time” in Spanish.

 At the end of the day all the patients who were meant to leave hurried to the boats with some discharge personnel guiding them down the ramps. Only two patients were left aboard for the night.

Manso suited up in a lifejacket, helped patients down and witnessed a 91-year-old woman lifted from the platform to the boat as if she were a feather.

 “The patients and their escorts (family members) were so sweet; all of them just kept smiling. Even the older ones with cataract surgeries were so resilient,” she says. She even made sure everyone had their belongings with the simple phrase “Tiene todo?”

Earlier, a little boy with his mother had his extra thumb removed. He was no more than three years old, wearing a tiger gown for the operating room. According to Project HOPE volunteers, his condition is formally called polydactyly, and it is a dominant trait. So, if a parent has it, the child will have it as well. The extra digit varies in size for different people.

In total the Project HOPE volunteers and Continuing Promise 2011 medical team onboard the USNS Comfort and ashore in Nicaragua: 

  • Treated 1,234 people
  • Preformed15 surgeries
  • Conducted 11 CT scans

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