Clearwater and PRAXES work together to keep crew safe and reduce vessel diversions
At what point did you become the contact for PRAXES and involved in managing this relationship?
In 2003 we had acquired another company and brought on approximately 50 employees. This raised the employee profile demographically and we had a lot of employees around age 55 or so with ongoing health issues. As a result there were a high number of workers compensation claims. PRAXES helped us develop a program for onboard remote medical assistance for our captains, straight through to managing employees’ disabilities if they did become ill or injured.
What services are PRAXES providing for Clearwater currently?
Currently, they provide our captains with remote medical advice at sea, and standardized first aid and medical kits, that keep us compliant and current. The captains love it because there is a management system that goes with the service and helps them to manage first aid, and the recording of illnesses, injuries and treatments provided, with the date and time. So we’ve got great documentation. The medical kits are very well organized so that the vials of medication are numbered. The captains and the doctor they’re speaking to know exactly what’s on board. The doctors simply tell the skipper what number to administer. It’s very user friendly and minimizes the risk of the captains giving inappropriate medications.
PRAXES does our marine medicals. Doctors on the remote calls have current information from the most recent medicals so that they have a good idea of the employees’ overall health. PRAXES has also helped us with respiratory protection programs and random drug testing programs.
Do you think that PRAXES assists Clearwater in achieving certain business objectives?
One of our issues was workers compensations claims. PRAXES is able to expedite MRIs and CAT scans and other diagnostic tests that might be needed for employees. We have been able to reduce claims by reducing the amount of time an employee is off work. Instead of waiting 14 months for an MRI, they can get one done in two to three weeks – It makes a huge difference! Some specialists will take expedited appointments with referrals from an occupational health physician. PRAXES consults with the family doctor and with the employee to make sure that everyone is involved with the treatment.
Which PRAXES services over the years have had the most powerful impact for Clearwater?
Working with PRAXES has helped us to improve the level of medical service our employees have access to while reducing our vessel diversions. Previously, when captains had to call for medical advice they would reach a doctor in an emergency room who was typically busy with many different patients and had no background or medical history for the crew member in question. They were not as well equipped to deal with the captain’s phone call. The safest answer was to bring the crew member into shore for medical treatment, which could mean that the crew-member is waiting until they get ashore for treatment. Now, with PRAXES systems in place, we are successfully able to triage and treat many minor incidents onboard our vessels.
All of the vital signs are looked at and the captains are well trained in marine first aid. PRAXES doctors have access to the marine medical information and they know what medications are on board each vessel. They can start a process of treatment that is efficient and safe. They are very good at remote diagnosis – they can detect the difference between heartburn and heart attack. It’s made a huge difference. There’s a heavy cost of bringing in a vessel and PRAXES has helped us reduce diversions significantly while improving the medical care our employees receive . The employees are very happy with the services. It also gives us and our employees peace of mind to know they are supported in this way.
Is there an average cost to a vessel diversion?
In our business a vessel diversion has a significant cost. Some vessels in some areas might be nine hours away from shore and others 18. And that’s a one way trip so if they need to come in the vessel is losing hours of harvesting time and burning extra fuel. For example, on a clam fleet you have 35 employees on board so you have to consider their earnings and time and on a scallop fleet it’s an average of 27 crew members on board and a lobster fleet has an average of 17.
What sets PRAXES apart from other medical support services that exist?
A lot of it is their standards. In addition to emergency physicians they have an occupational health physician who is designated to give marine medicals by Transport Canada. He’s taken the time to become familiar with our operating environments on the vessels. He’s able to look at someone working at a particular process and tell you by looking at a video, what the likely injuries might be and how to avoid them. It’s very thorough and PRAXES has high standards.
In terms of some of your longstanding captains and crew members, do you see a change in their attitudes and comfort levels now that they have PRAXES support?
Nobody, no matter how much training they’ve got knows how they’re going to react when someone gets hurt or there’s an emergency. PRAXES takes a lot of pressure off the captains because they have dedicated, reliable emergency physicians who are completely focused on their calls and have background information on the employees and will talk to them as well and get them through the situation.
PRAXES is very quick to respond if there’s any problem or issue whether it’s dealing with an invoice or providing a subcontractor for a specific service. They are very swift in dealing with all our concerns, big and small.