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    Navy Medicine Reservists back-fill shore-based positions of personnel aboard Comfort assisting Puerto Rico disaster relief



    Story by Tami Begasse 

    Naval Medical Forces Atlantic

    PORTSMOUTH, Va. – With more than 750 Navy Medicine personnel from over a dozen shore-based military treatment facilities (MTFs) embarked aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) in support of the U.S. military response to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, Navy Reserve physicians, nurses and hospital corpsmen voluntarily stepped up to the plate to temporarily serve in their places within 72 hours after the ship departed Sept. 29, 2017. And the support continues with the latest group of 30 reservists’ arrival this week at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP)—where the bulk of the Comfort staff is home-based.

    "Our Navy Medicine reservists are highly trained and talented health care professionals who help maintain patient care continuity when we need staffing support that arise due deployments such as Comfort's support of the Puerto Rico disaster relief," said Rear Adm. Anne Swap, Navy Medicine East commander.

    While Navy Reservists can be ordered to active duty in times of war and national emergency, for peacetime support of humanitarian missions, such as the disaster relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, they only serve if they are able to volunteer.

    NMCP, with approximately 600 of its staff aboard Comfort, welcomed its first wave of reservists Oct. 9. The reserve health care personnel from locations such as Guam, California, Hawaii, New York and Maine, are currently supporting services such as family medicine, inpatient care, physical therapy, surgical services and oncology.

    “I am immensely proud of our Reserve response. More and more reservists are responding every day. To do so, they must leave their civilian jobs and their families,” said Rear Adm. Louis Tripoli, Navy Reserve deputy commander, Navy Medicine East. “The Navy Reserve medical team is an all volunteer force of approximately 7,000 health care personnel, many of whom work in top ranked health care systems in their civilian jobs. Most people tend to think the Reserves are only used in time of war, but in reality, we are out there every day, training and providing care all over the globe.”

    Some of the many reservists actually came from Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) in Puerto Rico. Along with hospital corpsmen from NOSC Puerto Rico volunteering to fill in at location such as NMCP and Naval Hospital Jacksonville, some are supporting relief efforts aboard U.S. Troop Ships (USTS) Empire State and Kennedy whose Federal Emergency Management Agency teams continue to provide life-saving resources to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island.

    “The Navy Reserve medical force always stands ready to serve wherever our forces operate. Our mission to provide the best care to our Sailors, Marines and their families truly illustrates our role in supporting Navy Medicine as a medical readiness platform,” said Navy Capt. Alison Eagleton, commanding officer, Operational Health Support Unit Portsmouth, who was one of the first to volunteer. “We stand ready to answer the call whether it is to help fill critical shortages in personnel at Navy facilities or to deploy to provide direct mission support in times of war. Where ever Navy needs us, we will go.”

    NME oversees the delivery of medical, dental and other health care services to approximately one million patients across almost 100 facilities in the eastern hemisphere—including the Tidewater Military Health System which brings together McDonald Army Health Center, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley. Plus, its public health activities extend globally. For more information, visit

    Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 personnel that provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.



    Date Taken: 10.25.2017
    Date Posted: 10.25.2017 15:09
    Story ID: 252984
    Location: PORTSMOUTH, VA, US 

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