By Wallace Tevu Tenasi
The people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville had the privilege of receiving some of the best quality health care services available with the visit of the United States Navy Ship Mercy (T-AH 19).
USNS Mercy is a U.S. Navy floating hospital which visited the evergreen island of Bougainville to provide free healthcare services to its people as part of the Pacific Partnership program.
Mercy is a converted San Clemente-super tanker with a length of 894 feet, a105 foot beam and can carry up to 1,214 medical personnel at full operation status, though currently carries considerably less in its Reduced Operating Status.
It can provide full hospital capabilities and services including surgery, radiology, optometry, dermatology, physical therapy, dialysis, a pharmacy, a blood bank and dentistry.
It was the second port in the Pacific region the crew visited in 2015 after going to Fiji earlier this year.
From 29 June until 3 July this year the little Square within Arawa District Hospital became packed with people seeking medical help from the medical personnel who arrived in Bougainville aboard the Mercy.
Medical doctors, nurses, midwives and other professionals were a big help to the people.
Services provided included eye care, dental, surgical, pharmacy and also mechanics who fixed up faulty hospital machinery.
All surgical patients were taken on-board Mercy for operations.
With just a few days to cover, more than 10,000 people in need of medical help were seen during this one week visit.
A relative of a 45 year old female who lived with goitre for nearly 15 years was overjoyed seeing their mother back from the Naval Hospital Operating Theatre with the goitre finally removed.
“Thank you very much US Medical Team for helping our mom get rid of the goitre,” she said.
“You did so much through these few days.”
The Arawa Hospital staff had the chance to attend in-house training to boost their work performance.
Assistance was also given by the Health Centre staff and a few from Buka General Hospital.
Mr Iggy Shirau Giranah, the Acting Matron in Arawa Hospital, expressed his gratitude for the visit of the Mercy team.
“I am pleased that my staff had the chance of acquiring skill that could have cost them much, thank you very much US Naval Team,” Mr Giranah said.
The week ended with a tour of the Mercy for the Arawa District Hospital staff.