The future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy may be a way off from commissioning, but its medical facilities have already accepted and treated a first patient.
The United States’ second Ford-class aircraft carrier will be the “premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in major combat operations,” the Navy said in a Friday release.
And as more than 100 sailors have officially checked into the command with more expected, the Navy said it’s important to have essential care for the PCU John F. Kennedy sailors.
“While the current available care is in the basic phase, this is the first step towards full medical support of the ship and crew,” said Capt. Kimberly Toone, Naval Air Force Atlantic Force surgeon, in a statement. “Each step is critical to the future success of our nation’s next aircraft carrier.”
Cmdr. Michael Prudhomme, one of the first officers to report to the carrier, said the clinic will serve as the crew’s primary care provider, treating common illnesses and doing Periodic Health Assessments, among other tasks.
Some services, such as X-rays and pharmacy services, are still being offered for crew at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and branch health clinics rather than the carrier, according to the release.
Carriers have long been designed with robust medical facilities, including complete surgical theaters and dental wards, equipped to meet the health needs of sailors underway for months at a time. The carrier Gerald R. Ford, the first in the Ford class, was built with a 41-bed hospital ward that includes an intensive care unit, emergency room and pharmacy.
And sometimes these medical facilities are pressed into unexpected use -- in 2016, a sailor aboard the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered a baby after complaining of stomach pain while the ship was underway.
The Kennedy’s commissioning is expected to take place in 2020, with the official christening ceremony set for Dec. 7.
-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at email@example.com.