Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chile's Floating Hospital

When the Navy acquired an amphibious assault ship last year, it said the vessel would be used for humanitarian as well as military purposes. The Navy is living up to that pledge, deploying the Sargento Aldea on the largest medical relief mission in Chile. More than 75 medical professionals are among a force of 600. An estimated 6,000 people are being treated, which will trim hospital waiting lists in the Aysen region by 30%. Those numbers help illustrate the health crisis in Chile and its shorthanded public hospitals. They also show how the armed forces are much a part of the nation's health care system. The Navy has been a longtime provider of medical care in isolated areas, and the Army's field hospital and medical staff often have been used to help sick civilians, especially the poor. The military has the resources to help out, and such goodwill missions help polish an image of the armed forces that's already fairly positive. The Sargento Aldea has 51 hospital beds, two operating rooms, a dental clinic, an x-ray room and other facilities.

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