Soon after I wrote last week about reforms underway at the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center to improve the processing of mariner credentials, I received an interesting query from a reader.
He wanted to know if the NMC could make more use of medical personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service as a way of easing the shortage of doctors who review the medical portion of mariner applications. The reader suggested that this might be an effective way to save money and also have a reliable pool of qualified medical personnel. The NMC says vacancies and turnover in these positions contribute to delays in application processing.
I posed the question to Capt. Anthony S. Lloyd, the NMC’s commanding officer. In an email response, Capt. Lloyd said PHS personnel have worked at the center in the past, but that their assignments are controlled by the health service and as such, the NMC has little control over how long they stay. This has caused periodic vacancies that disrupt and lengthen the review process.
Lloyd said the Coast Guard believes that having civilian personnel assigned to the NMC permanently will help build “institutional experience within the medical division, while ensuring a definite benefit to mariners and the maritime transportation system.”
He said that having dedicated, filled billets is also a better use of scarce resources in the long term. “This approach helps reduce the likelihood of periodic, potentially unplanned vacancies because civilian permanent staff are not subject to rotations. This cannot be said for PHS doctors,” Lloyd wrote.
Capt. Lloyd added that he and his staff are committed to improving customer service. Download and view monthly NMC performance reports.
Mariners can call the NMC call center with questions about medical application processing at 1-888-427-5662 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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