By Sabri Ben-Achour
The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort is leaving Haiti after spending nearly two months treating victims of the earthquake that killed nearly 280,000 people there. The ship should return to Baltimore Harbor within about a week.
Lieutenant Commander Daniel DiAuroro, who is in charge of receiving patients aboard the ship, says the number of patients needing treatment aboard the Comfort has steadily declined over the past few weeks.
"The services onshore have started to come back online and there's little need for us at this time right now," he reports, "so that's why the decision has been made for us to go ahead and head home."
For seven weeks, the USNS comfort was anchored about a mile offshore of Port au Prince. Painted all white with giant red crosses along its sides, it was the ultimate symbol of the US medical relief effort. The ship carried the most advanced medical equipment in the area, and ended up treating 871 patients, from Haitian children whose limbs were crushed by falling buildings to Fairfax County rescue workers injured during rescue operations.
Although the hospital ship is returning, the U.S. military will continue humanitarian assistance on shore.