Pacific Partnership 2012 Surgeons Provide Unique Service Aboard USNS Mercy

Pacific Partnership 2012 Surgeons Provide Unique Service Aboard USNS Mercy

Surgeons aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) provided a unique and relevant service to Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12) participants in the form of minor surgeries, Aug. 14.

During the transit from the mission’s final port in Cambodia to Guam, service members were able to request various surgeries to be performed on Mercy.

“A lot of the surgeries were minor cases from the removal of small lumps and bumps to orthopedic cases,” said Cmdr. Matthew Provencher, a general surgeon aboard Mercy. “These were all cases that improve function and also help that individual return with the highest mission readiness possible.”

Provencher said the reason behind offering the surgeries was to say thank you to the hard work the crew put in during the PP12 mission.

“We have the best that the armed forces has to offer in terms of surgical and nursing expertise and we thought it would be a great opportunity to offer elective surgery to the crew on a limited basis in terms of the complexity of the procedure goes,” he said. “It was a small way of saying thank you to everyone that helped care for all of our patients throughout the mission.”

Cpl. Aaron Morice, a surgery recipient, said the surgery was a new and welcomed experience.

“I didn’t really think I would go on the ship as part of the mission and then be a part of the mission by getting surgery,” he said. “It is definitely a privilege and for the crew, it is more secondhand because we were out here for the host nations to help them. It is nice to be able to get something removed that has been an annoyance for a year.”

Provencher said the surgeries were an opportunity to finish the mission strong.

“I think this was a great opportunity to leverage a little bit of downtime and also capitalize on our surgical, nursing and technician expertise in order to provide a very good service to the crew,” he said. “It helped us go full circle with the mission and get back to working with our normal patient populations for when we go back to our parent commands.”

This service allowed service members to receive surgeries during downtime so when they return to their parent commands, they will not miss work.

Mercy’s crew is now finished with working ports which included Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia in support of PP12. While at the mission ports, patients were provided free medical, dental and optometry care along with veterinary care for pets and livestock.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Naval Today Staff, August 20, 2012; Image: US Navy