Praxes Medical Group takes a ship call
On a Friday afternoon in the fall of 2014, a call came in to PRAXES from a ship’s agent to explain that a ship would be arriving in Halifax the next morning with a crew member who had a painful medical condition. The ship was stopping for only a few hours to deliver and pick-up containers. The caller wanted to know if it was possible to avoid a potentially long wait in the Emergency Department and have the man seen on-board the ship. Considering the time-limit logistics, PRAXES staff arranged for a physician, in this case me, to meet the ship soon after it tied up in port.
The shipping agent contacted the container port security and entry into the busy, secure area was arranged. As the ship tied up, the ramp was lowered while the large container port gantry was being positioned next to the ship to start unloading large containers. At the same time a fuel truck pulled up along side too – there was no time wasted during these short stops.
I was met by one of the crew – all of whom were Eastern European and spoke limited English. The crew member guided me along the ice covered deck, into the superstructure, then up several levels to the crews quarters and designated ‘hospital room.’ The Atlantic crossing from Europe had been very rough the preceding few days and had resulted in a late arrival. Most of the loose objects in the room had been thrown around. The crew member looked over his shoulder, flashed me a quick smile, and rearranged what he could. Then I was invited in to the tight quarters and we waited for the ‘patient.’
The captain arrived in a few minutes, a very welcoming and appreciative man, with the patient in tow. Following a brief exchange (the man was allegedly feeling better and seemed VERY embarrassed about the apparent fuss and having to bring a doctor to see him), a diagnosis was made, treatment recommended, and paperwork completed. It was no more than one hour from arrival at the container port to heading back home and then to a shift in the Emergency Department.
It’s not always possible to accommodate such last minute requests, but PRAXES Medical Group is in the business of trying to solve unique medical situations. Our clients operate in a highly competitive environment, where lost time can be very costly. We are here to help whenever and however we can.
John Ross MD FRCPC
Medical Director, Praxes Medical Group