Navy hospital ship for non-virus patients to leave LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Navy hospital ship temporarily docked in Los Angeles Harbor to help during the coronavirus crisis will depart on Friday, California officials said.

The Mercy arrived at the end of March to provide beds for non-coronavirus cases to take the load off regional medical centers expecting a surge of COVID-19 patients.

“Having successfully decompressed the health care delivery system in the Los Angeles region,” the Mercy will return to its home port in San Diego, said a statement by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Medical personnel from the ship will remain in the Los Angeles area to continue to help with the virus response — including four teams that will help out at skilled nursing facilities.

Officials didn’t release details on the timing of the departure of the massive white ship.

The Mercy, with 1,000 hospital beds and giant red crosses on its sides, was welcomed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti as officials predicted hospitals could see a surge of COVID-19 cases.

However, Los Angeles hasn’t been overrun with virus cases, and so the Mercy didn’t play a huge role as a safety net.

As of the end of April, the Mercy had treated a few dozen non-coronavirus patients for everything from heart and lung conditions to gastrointestinal problems.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and lead to death, and nursing homes have been hit hard.