Mining companies that partner with professional medical consultants to provide on-site medical assistance have the confidence that medical issues are treated appropriately and quickly.
This immediate treatment can help avoid unnecessary off-site referrals, treatments and prescriptions, states medical support provider Remote Medical International (RMI) business development VP Kevin Thompson.
“Keeping projects moving fluidly depends on ensuring worker health and safety. Minor injuries can be resolved on site, enabling workers to return to work more quickly. In remote environments and at projects whose locations migrate as the work progresses, this class of on-site medical care is even more important, as it can be the difference between life and death.”
On-site medical providers can also monitor the daily health of employees, he adds.
Thompson says that, since mining projects are often located far from established healthcare facilities, having medical personnel operating on site removes the need for employees travelling for treatment.
He highlights the importance of keeping workers safe and healthy, particularly in mining, to meet project and production deadlines.
Further, he notes that Covid-19 remains a significant concern for miners, and that evolving pandemic regulations make it critical for miners to have a Covid-19 management plan.
RMI can supply testing, vaccination and Covid-19 management plans for miners to help protect employees.
“Miners should consider working with a medical partner that offers comprehensive services for all phases of a mining project. Employees will benefit from a higher level of care, and the company will receive enhanced savings and increased efficiencies. These services vary, based on the location of the mine, as the more remote the mine, the more services are needed.”
Thompson lists several services which medical partners, such as RMI, can provide.
RMI services include on-site physicals and medical screening, vaccinations and the creation of medical emergency response plans for new and potential mine employees.
Once employees start to work on site, RMI provides medical staffing, medical supplies, field clinics and mobile treatment centres.
Occupational health assistance services are also provided, such as on-site physical therapy and global onshore and offshore topside medical support.
RMI also provides medical facility referrals; global evacuation coordination; hospital admission and payment guarantee, as well as international repatriation, when needed.
“Our goal is to mimic services one would receive in a hospital or clinic to a certain extent. The difference lies in the resources available at the remote site, and the time it would take to get a patient to a higher level of medical care.”
RMI works with clients’ budgets and their medical goals to build on-site medical capacity, which can handle a range of injuries and illnesses, as well as implement a plan to deal with injuries or illnesses that cannot be managed on site.
This kind of plan can include instructions on how to transport a patient to a referral facility, and where to take that patient.
Thompson emphasises that RMI puts measures in place to ensure the best possible patient care, as the company’s clinicians are selected through a rigorous interview and clinical evaluation processes.
These clinicians are overseen by a clinical governance team for quality assurance and improvement over the life of a project.
He says RMI also uses sophisticated information technology systems for health records, inventory management and maintenance, and general administration, in addition to a global communication centre that works with the medical team on site to coordinate referrals and evacuations when needed.
Thompson points out how this range of services provides flexibility in clinical options for miners.
“We work with companies that tell us their requirements or, in other cases, we collaborate with miners to determine the appropriate type of facility. We look at factors such as workforce size, location of the mine and its distance to other trustworthy medical services, as well as the budget. Depending on the company, they may want more advanced services available on site, which would allow for more injuries and illnesses to be treated on site.”
Thompson contends that the trade-off is that more advanced medical services are more expensive. If a mine is close to an ideal medical facility, RMI might suggest a simpler clinical service on site.
“Each situation is unique, and we work to understand the unique needs of our clients’ projects and provide them with options to choose from to meet those needs,” he concludes.