‘Sycamore Medical Centre ready to meet needs of oil industry’

Since the inception of oil and gas operations offshore Ghana, several private initiatives have come up to support the industry to operate within international standards.

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One of the vital needs for those working in the upstream sector of the industry, especially offshore platforms, is medical fitness to undertake their task in a working environment considered to be the most hostile anywhere in the world.

Offshore environment require a lot of physical work from exploration, appraisal, and development to production stages, which require well-fit skilled manpower to carry out highly capital-intensive jobs in very risky environments.

The absence of good medical facilities in an oil producing country could be a cost and a waste of time to the industry players in their quest to ensure that the needed crew selected for offshore operations were medically fit to carry out their duties of drilling the oil for export.

Fortunately for Ghana, a private medical facility, Sycamore Medical Centre, in Sekondi/Takoradi has made it to the list of accredited hospitals worldwide by the Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) to undertake international medical examination for offshore workers. The centre began its operations in 2006 in Ghana.

The centre, which is a huge edifice in Takoradi, is led by Dr Tawiah Siameh, who said the centre was set to provide the best health care that met international standards to Ghanaians and the expatriate community.

He said it was important to note that as more discoveries were made and many companies were  yet to start appraisal and development of the fields, there would be the need for services including medical care.

He explained that the accreditation of Sycamore Medical Centre to perform medical fitness examination for offshore was not limited to Ghana alone but workers worldwide.

An ambulance at the hospitalGhana, he explained, had the potential to retain most of the investments coming its way, if private initiatives rose up to the occasion.

“At the centre, we also undertake substance abuse such as cocaine screening for all categories of patients.”
 
Oil and Gas
Dr Siameh is optimistic that systematically, Ghana would not only be an oil-producing nation but also become a hub to capture the market in the West African sub-region and beyond.

The nature of offshore activities across the globe means that the workforce lives in close proximity to the environment they work in and have to travel via helicopter to offshore and back home.

The industry, according to players, had been characterised by a constant striving for newer and better technology to allow it to operate in deeper waters or cope with high-temperatures and high-pressured reservoirs.

All these issues obviously impact upon the health and safety at work, therefore, it is important those working in such an environment are medically fit to enable the players to know that its team members are solid.

Some of the industry players indicated that the absence of facilities such as Sycamore and others in the metropolis, such medical fitness services, would have been done outside Ghana.

However, with the emergence of the industry in 2007, Sycamore and others have risen up to the occasion as Dr Siameh and few others were the first to have provided services to the industry until its present stage.

Mr Michael Avorkliyah of Seaweld Engineering said his outfit had been a client of the facility and they were really happy with the service it provided for its clients, which was much cost-effective compared with expatriate medical service providers.

He said it was important to note that the industry was a risky venture and one had to be able to ensure that the crew deployed to work on an oil platform were medically fit.

“To have a wholly owned Ghanaian company, playing in the industry to the international standard is a great achievement, and we at Seaweld have been dealing with the centre since the inception of the industry,” he said.

Patients at the reception of the hospitalThe Sycamore idea
The idea of the medical centre, according to Dr Siameh , who is in his mid-20s, started when he was still a medical student at the University of Ghana and contemplating on how to ensure that he was secured during his retirement age.

According to Dr Siameh, most doctors retired into private practice, at an older age, sometimes in their 50s. He, however, said for him, an ideal retirement into private service should have started early while he was still young and active.

He said upon his transfer to the Western Region to work with the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital after his Houseman-ship at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the search for space began.

The current location is a super structure with outpatient department, an emergency room, an X-ray department, well-equipped delivery room, neo-natal intensive care unit, intensive care unit, computerised records unit, diagnostic laboratory, ultra sound department, physiotherapy department, well stocked pharmacy, executive wards operation theatre among others.

He said the facility was well-equipped and built with the disabled in mind to ensure that proper care was given to all who patronised the facility.

He said government, could not provide all the needs of the citizenry, but with the involvement of the private sector in vital areas, such as health, would help in growth acceleration.

Sycamore
The name Sycamore was taken from the Bible to represent the focus of the leadership of the centre to run ahead of the crowd.

In the Bible, when Jesus was passing through Jericho, a man by called Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and was wealthy but very short, wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

Therefore, to be ahead and help support in quality health delivery, Dr Siameh, after he was posted to Western Region, started preparing for his retirement age and acted like Zacchaeus and ran ahead of the crowd.

Other services and employment
Aside that Dr Tawiah said the centre provided comprehensive diagnosis treatment and follow-up to patients with chronic hepatitis B and C infection. The hospital has a restaurant which feeds patients and the entire community.

The hospital is currently located at Adientem, providing job for many in all the department in addition to the medical staff.

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