Who is the Most Important Person on the Ship? Dr. Gene Molina is indispensable.

Whilst on board everyone gets to know the friendly face of Dr. Gene Molina, who has worked on the JOIDES Resolution now for 8 years.
He graduated with his degree in Medicine from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, the Philippines in 1991. He completed his residency in 2000 so has been practising now for 16 years. He has specialized in emergency medicine setting up and managing an ER department in Manila. Luckily for us a friend of his encouraged him to apply to work as a seafaring doctor.

Initially in this new role Dr. Molina spent a few years on cruise ships travelling the world. His wife and four children joined him on board to see Alaska, the Caribbean, and Mexico. But however good the perks, the 6 – 8 months a year at sea is a painfully long time to be away from your loved ones. This eventually led him to apply to work on the JOIDES Resolution. Here he works on board for two months and then at home for two months.
Now the grandfather to 6 boys and 1 girl, the care of whom he plays an active role, you can be sure his home is never quiet during family celebrations! It is these moments he looks forward to when he is away. He still keeps very busy when back at home as he still practices in the ER clinic he set up.
Dr. Molina first joined the ship during its refurbishment in Singapore in 2007. This meant he was influential over the design of the new hospital on board. The suite of rooms in this hospital includes the only bath on the ship. This is ready for use in cases of hypo- or hyper-thermia. There is a small isolation room with one bed in case of a contagious disease being brought on the ship.
JOIDES Resolution has a great safety record with no days being lost to a work-related injury in over 12 years. For the doctor a good expedition is one when it is quiet for him. As well as equipment for minor surgery he has x-ray machines and is ready to cope with a range of emergencies. Occasionally he has had more serious complaints to manage. This is where his wide-ranging experience in emergency medicine is of real benefit to those on board. He has had to care for a patient with appendicitis for three days before they could be evacuated by helicopter off the ship. For these more serious emergencies we are lucky that Gene can confer with other doctors and specialists using tele-medicine. The large screen and camera are perhaps the first major clue when you walk into his room that this is no ordinary clinic. He can call Haukeland University day and night to access their specialists and together they discuss treatment options.
The doctor is not the only person with medical training. The captain and all the mates have had extensive first aid training. Heather, one of the lab technicians also doubles as a phlebotomist.  So should the doctor become ill or if there are more people sick than can be easily looked after there are plans in place.
We are now two weeks since we left Singapore. The Doctor likes to get to this stage in the expedition. He knows that most contagious diseases have an incubation of less than two weeks so after this point we are less likely to have an infectious disease pass through the ship.
Like so many people on board Dr Molina has many roles. Practising medicine is always a priority, but when he is quiet he books flights and hotel accommodation for the crew members ensuring they can meet the ship at port call and that they can return home after their two months at sea. He has a role in Health and Safety on board leading induction of new personnel. He also ensures all training of staff is up to date and valid.
I think everyone on board benefits from the Doctor’s friendly caring manner and is reassured to know we have a very competent professional to look after us.