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Hospital on the Water: 'Pope Francis' boat takes on Coronavirus outbreak in Amazon region

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'We couldn't be out of this fight.'

The "Pope Francis" hospital boat has been busy delivering vital medical aid to those struggling in rural communities during the coronavirus outbreak along the Amazon River.

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The hospital boat was founded in 2019.

The hospital boat was founded in 2019.

Highlights

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The boat, staffed with medical volunteers, crew members and Franciscan friars, contains an operating room and analysis laboratory and can provide a range of services, including x-rays, vaccinations, mammograms and ultrasounds, according to Catholic News Agency. The hospital boat, named after the Holy Father, has carried out over 46,000 medical consultations in the communities along the Amazon River.

However, their efforts have completely shifted in the face of Brazil's increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections. 

"We couldn't be out of this fight. We got together, reorganized ourselves in our service so that together we could also fight against COVID-19," Franciscan Brother Joel Sousa told the Brazilian bishops' conference news portal, according to CNA. "This vessel has already done great miracles in the lives of our riverside people, bringing health and hope."

With nearly 1.9 million COVID-19 cases, Brazil has the second highest number of recorded pandemic deaths in the world, after the United States.

‽We are mainly treating flu-like symptoms and mild, outpatient COVID-19 symptoms. The doctor performs the consultations and we also deliver medicines to the local health department," Sousa said.

The Brazilian Franciscans, from the Fraternity of St. Francis of Assisi in the Providence of God, were inspired to create their hospital boat after a visit from Pope Francis during the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. 

Pope Francis encouraged Friar Francisco Belotti to expand their religious works to those in the Amazon region. After the boat's launch, Pope Francis, who often speaks of the Church as a "field hospital," said the Church was now a "hospital on the water."

"Just as Jesus, who appeared walking on water, calmed the storm and strengthened the faith of the disciples, this boat will bring spiritual comfort and calm to the worries of needy men and women, abandoned to their fate," Pope Francis shared.

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