2004 saw the purchase of a state-of-the-art x-ray machine to be used in the Geita Gold Mine clinic, raising the level of medical services available to all Geita employees and contractor staff. In the past, on-site diagnosis and treatment of trauma patients was somewhat difficult. The mine medical staff had to use the existing facilities in the Geita district hospital some 20 kilometres away from the mine. These were seldom available as the required generator was in service for a limited number of hours every day, or radiographers were not always able to be found, particularly after hours.
In selecting the machine, the mine ensured that it was similar to those used in the district so that the same technicians would service it and that local radiographers could operate it. This modern machine does not require x-ray plates or chemical developing. The images are captured digitally and displayed on VDUs. No hard copies are kept. The major advantage of this is that if there is any doubt about a diagnosis, the x-ray can be immediately e-mailed to Dr Emby, consultant radiologist at AngloGold Health Service hospital in the West Wits region in South Africa. Consultation has thus become easier and faster, and diagnosis more reliable.
"This machine, costing 155,000 is money well spent," says Dr Gerald Baldrey, health services manager at Geita Mine. "It has already proved to be a very valuable resource, not only in the increased efficiency of service provision, but also in successfully dealing with accidents. The last two accidents on the mine involved 65 and 11 patients respectively, with the new machine allowing for improved and immediate radiological diagnosis and consequent treatment." (The first of these accidents involved a local contractor's bus rolling off the road while transporting the mining contractor's (DTP) staff home. The second incident involved a light vehicle accident.)
Potentially, this purchase also has positive impacts for the broader community beyond Geita as the mine has often volunteered the services of doctors and equipment in case of a major accident or incident in the surrounding communities.
Another valuable advantage of the machine is the increased ease of surveillance medicals, as these require chest x-rays. It is now mandatory for most employees to have a surveillance medical every year as part of good occupational health practice.