Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Bringing Comfort to Haiti

Wegner, Ronald A. ARNP, CRNA; Boal, Alex RN, CRNA; Walters, CAPT Lynda CRNA; Thomas, Tim RN; Wells, Erica BSN, RN; Griswold, LTJG Jeremy MSC, USN, RPh; Oravec, CDR David G. CHC, USN

doi: 10.1097/PSN.0b013e3181ee16ce

On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake ravaged one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere. A week later, the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort was anchored off Port-au-Prince to perform a mission of mercy for hundreds of critically injured victims of this disaster. The staff of the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort included military as well as civilian volunteer healthcare professionals, working as a team day and night under adverse conditions to save lives and optimize outcomes for the survivors.

Ronald A. Wegner, ARNP, CRNA, has worked as a self-employed anesthetist for 30 years, 25 of which included office-based plastic surgery. Early in his career, he worked for government grant projects refining the design of paramedical ambulances. He spent much of his time in the operating room teaching airway management to residents, nurses, and paramedics. The past 15 years were spent commanding federal medical assets (personnel, equipment, and supplies) and civilian medical teams, while responding to various disasters in the United States and abroad. Haiti was his first volunteer mission and, as it turned out, it was one of the most memorable and personally rewarding assignments he has ever undertaken.

Alex Boal, RN, CRNA, has worked as an intensive care unit registered nurse in many states from North Carolina to Hawaii. His first medical mission as a registered nurse was to the Honduras. Working with Project Hope in Haiti was his first volunteer trip as a certified registered nurse anesthetist and his first disaster experience.

CAPT Lynda Walters, CRNA, from a position as the Chief Anesthetist to the Head of the Department of Anesthesiology had a very successful career in the U.S. Navy for the past 27 years.

Tim Thomas, RN, has worked at Watsonville Community Hospital in California for the past 25 years, 20 of which were spent as an operating room nurse. He has worked with the American Red Cross in disaster management since 1982 and served as a disaster shelter manager during the floods of 1982 in Alviso, California, and 1986 in Corralitos, California. He is a member of the Santa Cruz County Medical Reserve Corps. During the past few years he has been on multiple medical missions to China and India for pediatric cleft lip and palate repairs. All of these were volunteer, nonpaid activities.

Erica Wells, BSN, RN, was raised and began her nursing career in Alaska, and currently works at Mammoth Hospital Postanesthesia Care Unit, Mammoth Lakes, California. She has been a nurse for 5 years, working primarily in cardiovascular and postanesthesia care units. Haiti was her first disaster response assignment.

LTJG Jeremy Griswold, MSC, USN, RPh, received a bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from Ferris State University. Practiced for 8 years as a civilian pharmacist in Michigan in both inpatient and outpatient pharmacies prior joining the Navy. This was his first and only deployment and was the first deployment of this type and scale for the ship itself. He currently works at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia.

CDR David G. Oravec, CHC, USN, was the Command Chaplain on the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort (T-AH-20) during Operation Unified Response Haiti 2010. He was also the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort's Command Chaplain for Operation Continuing Promise ′09 as medical care was provided to more than 100,000 needy people in 7 Caribbean and Latin American nations. A reserve component service-member, he is currently serving as the Casualty Affairs Chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Prior to this, he was a parish pastor at a Lutheran church in Frederick, Maryland, for 18 years.

Address correspondence to Ronald A. Wegner, ARNP, CRNA, Anesthesia & Disaster Medical Services Inc, 11103 Sun Tree Rd, Hudson FL 34667 (

For more than 49 additional continuing education articles related to emergency care to

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses