A room or compartment on ships which is dedicatedly used for medical purposes is known as a sick bay or the ship’s hospital. The medical room must have all the necessary facilities that are required to treat an injured or ill person on board. The facilities provided in the ship bay depend on the type and purpose of the ship.
According to ILO convention 92, all the ships having a crew of 15 or more and engaged in voyage of three days or more must have a dedicated medical room or ship bay on board. This is imperative to give necessary treatment and care to a patient or injured person in a favorable environment with appropriate medical facilities.
The concept of sick bay was introduced during the Age of Sail, when the British Royal Navy used to carry trained medical officers on board warships to treat those injured in battles or having other medical problems. Since then, the ship bay used to have all the medical facilities along with the ship’s medical chest and treatment and monitoring equipment.
Traditionally a sick bay is designed in such a way that it can treat the injured patient with facilities which are not used by other crew members. This is done to avoid spreading of the disease and provide special intensive care to the patient.
The ship bay should have the following:
- A separate washing facility
- A separate bathroom
- Separate water closet
- Temperature control facilities
- An extra cabin to accommodate patients during long term care or to provide sleeping accommodation until an emergency occurs
- Should have the facility to convert into an isolation ward
- Must have two outlets for emergency power, which should be sufficient to operate all the medical equipment including operating lights
- Proper ventilation facilities
Many modern ships have ship bays with latest technologies such as telemedicine and examination and monitoring equipment to deal with on board emergency situations.