COVID reshapes mining's remote healthcare needs

Seattle-based medical support services company Remote Medical International (RMI) says miners are increasingly needing vaccine and testing services as the industry charts a path out of the pandemic crisis.
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Remote Medical International (RMI) has seen a rise in interest for its services from the industrial sector, particularly mining

There is a "big push" now for vaccine support across the world, says Andy Drake, Americas director of commercial sales for energy. 

"Some regions were hit harder and earlier than the US," Drake said of the global response RMI that saw and evaluated over the last year.

He notes that the company, which had already seen a rise in interest for its services in mining before COVID, quickly pivoted towards services including screening, case management and consulting.

However, remote medical services were beneficial at the start of the pandemic.

"RMI helped keep some companies from shutting down due to COVID outbreak," Drake added.

The company's strategy for expanding in mining is to continue to promote its capabilities for remote healthcare anywhere, but particularly in Canada.

"Opex for a mine might just not be high enough or staffing levels not high enough to warrant on-site healthcare, but there is a large portion of mining that is remote with changing crews [and] work performed. We're growing…and mining is probably one of top industries for healthcare and remote site care."

"In the last 18 months, we've really started to see healthcare support on mine sites pick up," he noted. "Companies are taking serious look at on-site healthcare solutions."

Sites can determine the scope of the RMI facility that they'd like, but each is staffed by at least an emergency medical technician (EMT), nurse practitioner (NP) or physician's assistant (PA) with access to further specialists via telemedicine.

The medical facilities, which can be temporary or permanently integrated into a site and can be erected even in mobile structures, can offer care for occupational cases as well as non-occupational injuries and illnesses

"It's an investment at the front end, but in the back end it can reduce workers' comp, increase time on-site," and if further RMI services are needed, the options for each customer mine can be changed.

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