NEW YORK, NY - The USNS Comfort, a Norfolk-based Navy hospital ship, is busy in New York, treating patients in what has become one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients being treated aboard the ship docked at the New York harbor require more than just medical care, they also have to eat.
Enter the Navy's team of culinary specialists.
Culinary Specialist First Class Tanya Stearns is the Patient Care Supervisor on the Comfort for this mission. Stearns supervises four culinary specialists and four food service attendants on the ship.
She talked about the role of feeding patients in a video released by the Navy.
“At the beginning of the day we get our meal tickets from the corpsman or the nurses, then we prep, cook and deliver the food to the wards and the ICU," Stearns explained.
Given that patients on the ship are being treated for a variety of issues, food service has to be tailored to their needs.
“Some of the considerations that go into preparing patient meals are different patients allergies [and] different types of food patients can eat. For example, some of them are on a renal diet or a heart healthy diet," Stearns commented.
The culinary staff is taking extra precautions to keep everyone healthy when preparing and delivering food.
“I feel honored to be serving patients here on Comfort," Stearns said. "It was kind of a challenge to get ready within such short notice but after getting here and getting into the swing of things, I am very excited about treating the patients.”
Editor's Note: This is part of a week-long series of reports from News 3 looking at what it took to prepare and now sustain the USNS Comfort for this important mission. You can see previous reports here and here.