IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 41

02 Remote Locations | Sakhalin
Major Milestone
Sakhalin – Service Delivery
in Extreme Environments
Sakhalin Island, which lies off the easternmost coast
of Russia, is a land of extremes. Winter lasts from
five to seven months, summer for only two to three
months: A climate which is both severe and
changeable. Two major oil companies, ExxonMobil
and Royal Dutch Shell, have led two separate
consortia to develop oil and gas fields there.
We first became involved in 1993 when Pascal
carried out a feasibility study for the provision of
healthcare for the two projects. Sandy Johnson
accompanied him on one visit and recalls: “The
landscape included weeds and broken bottles. The
local hospital housed donated medical equipment
that had never been used. There was a lot to do.”
Our relationship with Exxon Mobil was again thanks
to our prior performance; we had carried out a
number of life-saving medical transports for them
and many expats frequented the Jakarta clinic.
We visited the site and gave our assessment. As
always we had to demonstrate that we appreciated
the needs of this extreme environment, understood
the regulations and could work within the system –
training and developing national staff to create a
medical service that meets international standards.
In 1998 we were appointed to provide the general
medical services on-site – both during the
construction and when the sites were fully
operational. At the same time we were asked to
provide a similar service for Sakhalin Energy, Shell’s
oil and gas pipeline and refinery project. As is often
the case in remote locations we set up a joint clinic
for both companies, and their contractors, to use.
The 24-hour clinic had a team of doctors,
pharmacists, and administrative staff.
Left: Emergency recovery room,
Sakhalin Clinic, Russia, 2012.
It was a very challenging environment. There were
frequent fluctuations in the electricity supply, which
caused problems with our equipment, and we had
to import most of our supplies, including the many
pharmaceuticals needed.
We established the clinic, including a room fully
equipped to stabilise a patient in an emergency.
If needed we could then transport the patient to a
centre of medical excellence for specialist care.
Over time we developed full primary health care for
the employees and contractors and their families.
As with other projects, broader occupational health
schemes were also initiated.
Ever conscious of the need to develop good
relationships and partnerships, we held regular
meetings with the Russian medical fraternity in the
region. We used these partly as social events at
which we could network, and partly to foster the
exchange of ideas on serious medical topics. The
Russian medical system was isolated from the
Western world for many years, so interchanges like
these were helpful to all. The Russian healthcare
authorities have been enthusiastic partners, keen to
learn from and work with us. We have been proud
to have trained many of their doctors in accredited
emergency care skills.
In 2012 we moved the main city clinic in Yuzhno to a
new larger facility to cater for the expanding demands
of Exxon and Sakhalin Energy, all year round.
Dr Myles Neri: “Sakhalin Island represented our first
venture into remote site medical service provision in
Russia. It laid the foundation for a unique national
service which has seen us become the provider of
choice to joint venture Russian oil operations
throughout the vast continent.”


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