VIKAND’s Dr. Bill Heymann and President Peter Hult featured in The Maritime Executive
(Fort Lauderdale, FL August 17th, 2015) – Read an extract of the article “Maintaining seafarer’s wellness” by Wendy Laursen in the July/August issue of the The Maritime Executive below.
“U.S.-based VIKAND provides medical services to the cruise industry, and the company is expanding its services to shipping and offshore companies through a telemedicine offering that provides a range of seafarer wellness services including the ability to monitor both physical and mental health. VIKAND already has services in place to help seafarers improve their fitness and manage other health risks such as depression. Counseling services are available through mobile devices, and counsellors can alert the ship’s master if issues arise.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
VIKAND’s monitoring capabilities also include the identification of drug and alcohol abuse. Dr. Bill Heymann, the company’s Medical Director, cites the case of a seafarer currently undergoing rehabilitation for alcohol abuse on shore. The seafarer had relapsed after a successful nine-year career at sea. Random testing revealed the problem before an incident occurred, and VIKAND is working with the seafarer to help hi,n recover and be fit for work again. “The MLC has a lot of guidelines to benefit the crew, including components that deal with alcohol and drug issues,” says Heymann. “It covers the prevention of illness and the observation of those with a chronic illness that can be controlled so that they are perfectly fit to work. In the past, there was no attention given to this, and ship managers would lose valuable crew members.” Heymann and his team are working to develop standards for quality oversight, something that is not yet occurring industrywide. This includes management protocols and covers equipment issues such as the maintenance and calibration of on board medical equipment and the distribution of drugs and formulary on board.
“The maritime industry is very fragmented,” adds VIKAND President Peter Hult, who sees an opportunity in consolidating medical services to operators across all maritime sectors. “We know our clients spend a lot of time and money when trying to address everything from crew health and wellness to emergency issues. VIKAND aims to be a one-stop shop for medical guidance and services.”
A particular area of focus for VIKAND is communicable disease management, a constantly changing problem that is yet to have a unified, central reference such as the MLC. Currently, VIKAND screens crews and passengers for norovirus, SARS, MERS and Ebola. “No one would have thought a couple of years ago that Ebola was anything other than a local infection that popped up occasionally in Africa,” Heymann states. “Suddenly it became a widespread concern, and the san1e now applies to MERS. It started out in Saudi Arabia with son1e locals who were possibly infected by their can1els. Now we’ve had a growing number of serious cases and deaths in South Korea.” VIKAND monitors public health agencies and local authorities throughout the world. Part of its service is to ensure its medical teams have the latest information on identification and treatment, and this knowledge-sharing is expanding to the First Aid Officer on commercial vessels through telemedicine functionality.”