The “Pope Francis” hospital ship set sail last July and ever since has been providing much-needed medical care to communities along the Amazon River. In a letter to the crew before its maiden voyage, Pope Francis himself said:
“The Church is called to be a ‘field hospital’, welcoming everyone, without distinction. With this initiative, the Church now also presents itself as a ‘hospital on water.’ Like Jesus, who appeared walking on water, calmed the storm and strengthened the disciples’ faith, this boat will bring spiritual comfort and serenity to the concerns of needy men and women, abandoned to their fate.”
The ship comes in at 105 feet long with 23 healthcare workers aboard. It has exam rooms, an operating room, a laboratory, and a pharmacy. They are equipped to perform x-rays, mammograms, echocardiograms, and even specialist visits like ophthalmology and dentistry.
Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the ship “has already worked miracles, bringing healing and hope to river populations” according to said Brother Joel Sousa, a crew member on the ship.
Broutha Sousa said the medical and logistics team reorganized the entire ship specifically to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The crew now is committed to raising awareness and providing information along with providing outpatient treatment.
“We are dealing mainly with flu-like symptoms and mild cases of Covid-19. The doctors carry out the consultations, while we dedicate ourselves to the distribution of medicines.”