LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – The USNS Mercy hospital ship docked in the Port of Los Angeles began taking on patients Sunday to release pressure on the county’s strained medical system amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
The ship, with its 1,000 hospital beds, is not treating novel coronavirus patients, but rather treating others to free up local hospitals to focus on the virus outbreak, according to U.S. Navy officials. It arrived in L.A. on Friday.
“While in Los Angeles, the ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults,” according to a statement issued by the Navy’s 3rd Fleet. “This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their Intensive Care Units and ventilators for those patients.”
Novel coronavirus cases in Los Angeles county topped 2,100 on Sunday, with 37 deaths from the virus reported.
“The men and women embarked on board Mercy are energized, eager, and ready to provide relief to those in need,” Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy’s Military Treatment Facility commanding officer said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our crew for all the hard work they did to get us here and ready in such a short time,” Rotruck said. “Being able to accept our first patients is a true testament of the teamwork between Mercy, the Navy, the State of California, the county of Los Angeles, and the City and Port of L.A.”