Location of the Clinic
Because ships now have shorter stays in port the location of the clinic or reception area for seafarers in or near the port area is important. At least it should be within easy reach of transport coming from the port area. It may benefits from visibility in the port area. A port clinic should have physicians available who are prepared and at all times ready to go on board ships for treatment or advice. This may happen alongside or at anchor or even while the ship is on its way to or from the port. To aid referrals the port clinic has to be close to an emergency medical care unit and other specialized medical services, the seafarer should not have to take long trips to and from these services so that they do not to loose valuable time. A pharmacy nearby familiar with seafaring that is instructed on how to deal with maritime patients is a necessity in order to permit fast and smooth treatment of the patient.
Facilities in the Clinic
The reception and waiting room have to be clean and comfortable and decorated in a way that makes seafarers feel at home. A poster or some leaflets in their language, magazines or even newspapers make the seafarer feel recognized in a foreign port. Health information directly related to their profession should be available so that seafarers recognize the special focus of the clinic. Leaflets and booklets on health at sea should be put at their disposal free of charge. Treatment rooms have to be clean and well equipped with separate rooms for treatment and consultation. Consultation rooms should allow the seafarers to have a private and confidential talk with the attending physician. Interpreting or assistance by a third person may however sometimes be very important. Instruments and equipment needed are basically the same as in general practice, but in view of the many accidents on board a focus on the treatment of small wounds and trauma may be necessary. Also medication should be available in the clinic in order to be able to help the seafarer with a few tablets or a sample instead of having to send them to a distant pharmacy. A port clinic must have access to most - if not all- communication media available. Telephone, mobile phones and fax, but also internet and e-mail are indispensable for a fast and effective treatment of a patient.