12 February 2008

The Africa Mercy

This post will be short (Crazy, I know...Africa must be doing something to my brain). I just wanted to write a bit about the ship we're on, because that's predominantly what our life centers around at this point. Since patient care doesn't start till Monday, this week has been more about learning to live on board this ship.

The Africa Mercy is the largest non-military floating hospital in the world. And it's big. It weighs 16,572 tons, is 499 feet long, stands eight decks tall, and has enough bed space for 484 crew. To put this in perspective, the largest Staten Island Ferry is 310 feet long, weighing weighs 3,300 gross tons, and the largest ferry plying the Puget Sound is 460 feet long.

The hospital itself is even more impressive. It has 75 beds, a five-bed ICU (including two isolation rooms), an eight-bed recovery room, six operating theaters, a fully functional CT scanner, X-ray machine, and C-arm, and a full formulary, dental clinic, and laboratory. What's most unbelievable in that list of accolades, though, is the equiment itself. You would be blown away by how state-of-the-art some of the stuff in this hospital is: I worked with microscopes much worse than this in residency. And that CT scanner is the only one in Liberia, we're told, and one of only three in all of West Africa.

Quite honestly, the hospital facilities on this ship are impressive. And, so, as promised, here are a few pictures. I'll admit: I'm embarrassed at how unartistic and—well—boring they are, but they do the job. I promise better ones next time.

I told you it'd be short...

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