Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 01 April 2011 00:00
As he has been doing since 2005, Massapequa Park resident Anthony Amato recently completed another tour of duty for Mercy Ships, one of the worldís largest fleet of floating hospitals.
Earlier this week, Amato finished his third tour of duty with Mercy Ships and now is back on Long Island. All three of the tours have been to West Africa, this time he performed his nursing duties at a stop in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Amato is a recovery room registered nurse. He served in the Pediatric Ward of the African Mercy, which is billed as the worldís largest private hospital ship. Previous trips were made twice to Liberia, another West African nation.
The current tour of duty lasted five weeks. Previous tours lasted four and five weeks. More specifically, Amatoís duties include receiving patients as they emerge from surgery and stabilizing their situation until they are ready to be taken back to their beds and eventually, discharged from the hospital. He helped with the Pediatric needs on the ship to serve thousands of needy individuals during the five week tour. In all, the crew provided health care in various forms, including corrective surgeries like cleft lip and palate, tumor removal and orthopedics. As he had with previous tours, Amato raised his own means to pay his way for the volunteer work in Freetown.
Amato found out about Mercy Ships by accident. He had wanted to volunteer for a Project Hope tour, one that needed staff on the USNS Mercy. While doing a computer search, he came upon Mercy Ships. He liked what he has learned about this new organization and so he submitted an application, all with fulfilling results.
“I enjoyed it,” Amato said of his Mercy Ships tours. “It gives me an opportunity to give back something. Iíve been blessed with a good life and now I can do something in return.”
Amato has lived in Massapequa Park for 31 years. In the community, he has served as a volunteer on the Massapequa Park Fire Department for 30 years. The bulk of his career has been spent as an RN at South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, where he plans to retire this summer.
Since 1978, Mercy Ships has performed services valued more than $834 million, impacting about 2.9 million people. Its physicians have performed such operations as cleft lip and palate, cataract removal, straightening of crossed eyes, orthopedic and facial reconstruction. Mercy Ships personnel are also involved with treating patients in medical and dental clinics, primary health care, modern health care, and community development projects focusing on water and sanitation, education, infrastructure development and agriculture. In all, Mercy Ships have completed over 563 port visits in up to 70 nations throughout the world.