The hospital ship Mercy arrived in Los Angeles harbor on Friday to offer help during the coronavirus crisis, which is expected to tax local hospitals.
The Mercy has around 800 medical personnel, 1,000 hospital beds and 12 operating rooms.
The ship will accept patients without COVID-19 to release regional hospital beds to those who do. Some patients who are already hospitalized in Los Angeles County will be brought on board for further treatment, port officials said Thursday.
Governor Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that California will need 50,000 hospital beds for coronavirus patients, a significant increase from the 20,000 beds his government had predicted last week. The democratic governor said the state’s 416 hospitals doubled the surge plans to 40% of their capacity, including the provision of 30,000 new beds across the system.
Newsom last week asked the Department of Defense to send the Mercy and two mobile hospitals to California to deal with the expected increase in hospitalizations for residents of the novel corona virus.
A crowd gathers with some who practice social distance to watch the USNS Mercy hospital ship arrive in San Pedro.
Although the ship is manned by naval medical personnel, they will operate under the guidance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local health authorities, said Captain Dan Cobian, commander of Destroyer Season 21.
“It is really our job to work under the umbrella of FEMA and the state and local health authorities,” said Cobian. “We want to be ready to admit patients the day after we arrive.”
Counter administrator Tim Weber, commander of Naval Medical Forces Pacific, said the crew on board Mercy were serving a “higher calling”.
“The men and women of mercy, as well as all DOD employees, serve a higher calling to protect and defend this country,” said Weber. “With COVID-19, marine medicine, like any country in the world, provides medical energy to support our communities in times of need.