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June 24, 2010
By LEUT Kara Wansbury
LEUT Deirdre Smith has left the
Navy ward at St Vincent's behind
for a 69,000 tonne floating hospi-
tal, USNS Mercy, as part of Pacific
Working as a Reservist at the Navy
Ward at St Vincent's Hospital twice
a week, LEUT Smith answered the
call to participate in the humanitarian
assistance mission in South East Asia
visiting Vietnam and Cambodia.
Her role on board is vastly dif-
ferent to the role she performs at the
Navy ward, and on board HMA Ships
Kanimbla and Manoora as a mem-
ber of the Primary Casualty Reception
Facility (PCRF). The challenges,
though, will be met with measurable
"On board Mercy I am a scrub
nurse as well as the surgical workload
manager -- essentially it is my job to
track every single operation conduct-
ed on board Mercy in Vietnam and
Cambodia," LEUT Smith said.
This is no mean feat with 11
operating theatres and a team of 131
medical personnel made up of special-
ist surgeons, nurses and technicians
drawn from the US military, US Public
Health Service, partner nation mili-
taries and non-government organisa-
"I have been monitoring all of
the surgery hours, costs involved and
ensuring command is kept informed
of the mission's progress. I also get
to work in the theatres as I do in the
PCRF," LEUT Smith said.
Director of Surgical Services
for PP10, the USN's CMDR Trent
Douglas, said that, so far Mercy had
conducted 132 surgeries on board
including 49 cataracts, 15 cleft lip
repairs and many hernia repairs.
"The surgeons, nurses and techni-
cians who work in the operating suites
are changing lives for the better on a
daily basis," CMDR Douglas said.
"Each surgery helps a patient
remain a viable and productive mem-
ber of society and gives many the
chance to lead longer and healthier
lives," said CMDR Douglas.
LEUT Smith is pleased to be mak-
ing a difference and is looking forward
to being able to quantify her contribu-
"At the end of our time in
Cambodia I will know exactly how
many hours and at what cost Pacific
Partnership 2010 has helped improve
Changing lives on Pacific Partnership
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: LEUT Dierdre Smith in the pre-operative
ward in USNS Mercy during Pacific Partnership 2010.
Photo: ABIS Andrew Dakin
the lives of the locals in both coun-
tries," LEUT Smith said.
That, and the smiles on her patients'
faces, is enough reward indeed.
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