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Alumni serve in Haiti

HSC-BCD alumni part of Operation Unified Response

The distance between Dallas and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is roughly 1,809 miles, but the magnitude 7 earthquake on Jan. 12 that destroyed Haiti's capital city demonstrated that it is a small world, after all.

Drs. Ray and Stokes
  Drs. Michael Ray & Karen Stokes aboard
              the USNS Comfort in Haiti
Four days after the earthquake hit, the USNS Comfort departed Baltimore for Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response. On board the Navy hospital ship were two well-trained dentists whose names may sound familiar to folks at HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry: Drs. Michael Ray '99, '06 and Karen Stokes '99. Stokes is the general dentist assigned to the Comfort. Ray was assigned to the ship for the mission.

Comfort is 894 feet long and houses one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States, including 1,000 beds and a full spectrum of surgical and medical services, in addition to an array of capabilities selected specifically for the Haiti operation. Within three days - a record time - the ship arrived in Haiti and began providing care.

According to a March 19 story that appeared in "The Source for Navy News" on Navy.mil, the official website of the United States Navy, "While in Haiti, Comfort treated 871 patients and performed 843 surgeries. Soon after arriving on station, Comfort was receiving patients every six to nine minutes during its first four days and had more than 540 critically injured patients on board within the first 10 days. During this initial phase of its mission, the Navy hospital ship ran 10 operating rooms at full capacity to care for injured Haitian, American and other foreign national earthquake victims requiring surgical care."

Comfort and its crew were released from the mission on March 9, almost two months after the earthquake occurred. Ray and Stokes returned to Baltimore on March 27 after serving for 57 days at sea. 

"I am extremely proud of Drs. Stokes and Ray.  Their commitment to providing treatment for the survivors of the earthquake through what I am sure was an extremely emotional and trying time is most admirable.  I am also proud of them for representing our country in such a capable and caring manner, "says Dr. David Grogan, chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

When Ray completes his Naval obligations this summer he will return to HSC-BCD to assist Dr. Michael Ellis, associate professor and director of residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery.  Stokes will continue her service to the country in the United States Navy.