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Navy Reserve's Medical Professionals Report to USNS Mercy

March 25, 2020 | BY Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Travis S. Alston

Nearly 60 Navy Reserve medical professionals reported to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy this week to support the ship's upcoming medical relief mission.

"The Navy Reserve prides itself on being a ready, agile force that provides responsive, vital support to the Navy and the nation," said Navy Rear Adm. John Schommer, deputy commander of Navy Reserve Force. "Volunteer medical professionals from across the Navy Reserve have joined USNS Mercy and will soon join USNS Comfort to help serve our fellow citizens in need."

Medical personnel reported to the Mercy on March 22, and the ship left Naval Station San Diego in California the following day. The Mercy is now headed to Los Angeles in support of the nation's COVID-19 response.

Reservists in civilian clothes line up at a table manned by a sailor in uniform.
Mercy Prep
Navy reservists prepare to board the hospital ship USNS Mercy at Naval Base San Diego, March 22, 2020. The Mercy is deploying to support the nation's COVID-19 response and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients now in shore-based hospitals.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Travis S. Alston
VIRIN: 200322-N-ZO368-004C
Navy reservists receive instructions as they prepare to board a hospital ship.
Mercy Meeting
Navy reservists prepare to board the hospital ship USNS Mercy at Naval Base San Diego, March 22, 2020. The Mercy is deploying to support the nation's COVID-19 response and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients now in shore-based hospitals.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Travis S. Alston
VIRIN: 200322-N-ZO368-002C

About 140 Navy Reserve sailors will also report to the USNS Comfort hospital ship on the East Coast within the next few days, officials said.

"We diligently ensured our volunteer reservists are available to support the medical relief efforts without impacting their local and state communities," Schommer said. "When we were asked to help find medical professionals to help support this mission, we received hundreds of volunteer requests from our Reserve medical community in less than 24 hours. That's extremely humbling."

The Mercy left San Diego with more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff and 70 civil service mariners. The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. Navy personnel will provide a full spectrum of medical care, including general surgeries, critical care and general ward care for adults.

A forklift driver loads supplies from a dock onto a ship.
Mercy Supplies
A forklift driver moves pallets of supplies to be loaded aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., March 21, 2020, ahead of the ship's deployment in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Paulauskas
VIRIN: 200321-N-NN369-2007

This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and allow shore-based hospitals to use intensive care units and ventilators for those patients, officials said.

Schommer said the specialized skill sets Navy Reserve sailors bring will make them an indispensable force multiplier in support of this critical mission.

"I'm very proud of our citizen-sailors today," he said.

(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Alston is assigned to the Navy Reserve Force.)