Vickie V. Johnson, an assistant teaching professor, and Jennie Faulk, a part-time faculty member, from the Brigham Young University College of Nursing recently returned from participation with Operation Continuing Promise 2009 on board the USNS Comfort, a full-service U.S. Navy hospital ship.
As a postoperative nurse, Johnson was among 50 civilian volunteers who rotated to the ship in Nicaragua for three weeks of service. Faulk was an ICU nurse off the coasts of El Salvador and Colombia.
The objective of the massive floating hospital is to provide a continuing promise of medical and surgical care to developing nations in the Caribbean and Latin America. Although sponsored by the United States, it is an international effort that includes more than 800 military and medical personnel. LDS Humanitarian Services plays an important role by providing medical supplies and volunteers.
The USNS Comfort completed its four-month mission in July of this year. Medical professionals performed 90,000 medical procedures, including 3,000 surgeries, such as hernia repairs, cataract removal and dental-related procedures. Cosmetic surgeries to improve the lives of people were also common. Cleft palate and other repairs that require multiple surgeries will be continued next year when the hospital ship once again comes into port.
Fellow volunteers in the postoperating unit of the ship included several BYU nursing alumni: Lisa Barnes, Jennifer Smith, Julie Salazar and mother-and-daughter team Ann and Camera Palmer.
Writer: Rose Ann Jarrett