CHSi, GCR Brief Officials on New Clinic System


April 2013


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Top-ranking union officials and agents from the union’s 20 constitutionally established ports received a comprehensive briefing on the operational particulars of the new Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan (SHBP) Health Clinic System Feb. 19 in Orlando, Fla.


Conducting the seminar was Kay Whitson, program manager of Cape Canaveral, Fla.-based Comprehensive Health Services (CHSi), the firm which the both the SIU and SHBP earlier this year contracted to provide active members with a more extensive network for clinic services.


As was reported in the February Seafarers LOG, and earlier at the union membership meetings, CHSi’s larger network — which includes more than 2,000 participating facilities in the contiguous United States — will offer members access (almost without exception) to clinics closer to their homes for annual exams, functional capacity evaluations and interval exams.


Whitson provided her audience with step-by-step explanations as to how the new clinic system would operate and what members could expect once they started to use it. Joining Whitson in her presentation was Dean Charbonnet, director Technology Services, GCR, Inc. GCR provides both the union and Seafarers Plans with consulting services and technology solutions. Charbonnet briefed those in attendance on how members eventually would be able to access and use the new health clinic system via the member portal of the SIU website (


Whitson told those present that utilizing the new clinic system will allow mariners to schedule the exams they need by following an eight step process. Medical exams are of two types (automated and approval required by the SHBP Medical Department) and are required at various frequencies. The medical exams are as follows:


Automated Exams


  • Annual Physical Examination – required no more than once annually, no sooner than 60 days prior to the expiration date of the previous annual exam n New Member Physical Exam – this is a one-time requirement and is necessary only upon entry into the system


  • U.S. Coast Guard Exam – required once every two years unless the mariner is upgrading


  • Interval Exam – needed once every six months for deep sea members n DOT/U.S. Coast Guard Drug Test – needed once every six months (unless otherwise authorized by the SHBP Medical Department)


  • Benzene Clearance – mandatory no more than once annually, no sooner than 60 days prior to the expiration date of previous annual exam n Steward Department Certification – compulsory no more than once annually, no sooner than 60 days prior to the expiration date of the mariner’s previous annual exam


  • Unlicensed Apprentice Physical Exam – Will become automated after initial HLSS notification of acceptance. Exam is required one time only upon entry into the system.


  • Functional Capacity Evaluation – required no more than once annually, no sooner than 60 days prior to expiration date of previous annual exam


Approval Required Exams


  • Return to Duty Exam – (repatriation, interval illness or injury, etc.) Required upon demand by SHBP Medical Department


  • MSC Physical Exam – required by job order and approved as necessary by the SHBP Medical Department n MSC Shots only– required by job order and approved as necessary by the SHBP Medical Department


  • Commercial Non-MSC Shots only – required by job order and approved as necessary by the SHBP Medical Department


  • ARC Exam – approval required by ARC and SHBP Medical Department


  • TB Screening only – needed upon demand by SHBP Medical Department


Following are the steps that should be taken to schedule exams:


Step 1 – Ports (and eventually all mariners) order the exam type they need


Step 2 – CHSi receives exam request


Step 3 – CHSi schedules exams and notifies mariner of appointment date. All paperwork/ lab kits are sent to the local clinics


Step 4 – CHSi network clinic performs exams and completes all associated paperwork. All paperwork/lab kits are sent to local clinics


Step 5 – CHSi network clinic sends completed paperwork to CHSi and lab specimens to lab


Step 6 – CHSi conducts quality assurance of all paperwork for completeness


Step 7 – CHSi Medical Review Officer reviews record and makes preliminary determination and recommendations


Step 8 – CHSi sends completed medical record to SHBP Medical Department


According to SHBP Administrator Maggie Bowen, the new clinic system was rolled out March 1. In order to foster a seamless transition to the new system, union and SHBP officials opted to bring ports on-line in a staggered fashion, she said. Following are the dates on which the system went live at the respective ports:


Went online effective March 4

  • Jacksonville and Norfolk


Went online effective March 18

  • Tacoma, New York, Houston, Oakland, Piney Point and Ft. Lauderdale


Went online effective March 25

Algonac, Anchorage, Baltimore, Guam, Harvey, Honolulu, Joilet, Mobile, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, St. Louis and Wilmington


Bowen emphasized that if members require clinic services prior to the date their ports went online and began using the new system, they should continue using the process and clinics they relied on in the past. She pointed out, however, that members will need to go into the halls to schedule and receive receipts to present at clinics to obtain services.



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Notice to Mariners


Don't Let Bad Timing Cost You Exployment


With the introduction of the new clinic services program, mariners should keep the following considerations in mind so that they don’t miss out on any employment opportunities:


  • Since you can now get these services closer to your home, there is at least a three-day window to get into a clinic. The process to schedule an appointment takes longer since paperwork and lab materials have to be sent from the CHSi processing location directly to the clinics.


  • Some of the exam requests need Medical department approval which requires time to get accomplished. In addition, until you have been through the system the first time, there is an exchange of medical history which also requires time.


  • Immediate exams have almost been eliminated. This includes drug screens. You can begin the process 60 days before the expiration of your current documents so start early. Be prepared because it takes more time now.