US hospital ship returns after treating Venezuelan migrants

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A U.S. Navy hospital ship has returned home after its crew treated thousands of people in Central and South America, including migrants who fled crisis-wracked Venezuela.

Kevin Buckley, the commanding officer for medical operations on the USNS Comfort, said Tuesday that 26,000 people were treated for anything from hernias to cataracts.

Buckley spoke on a pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia where the Comfort is based.

The 11-week mission stopped in countries that included Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Those nations are home to hundreds of thousands of struggling Venezuelans.

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Many are desperately seeking health care and fled Venezuela because of a lack of access to doctors and medicine. A recent report estimated 20,000 doctors have left Venezuela since 2012.

The Comfort also visited the Central American country of Honduras.

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