What is a “Sick Chit?”
KINGS POINT, N.Y., July 15, 2019 – During the Indoctrination training period at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) each year, we get many questions about the Sick Chit, the multi-colored (primarily yellow) card worn around the upper left arm by some Plebe Candidates.
The Sick Chit is a critical part of the medical triage system we employ here to ensure Plebe Candidates receive high quality medical care and attention during the Indoctrination period. It has been around for a very long time and it is a visual reminder to cadre, staff, EMTs and the Health Clinicians that the wearer has a current medical consideration that requires additional scrutiny. It could be as simple as a recurring requirement to take medication, or it could indicate lighter than normal duty due to a physical limitation of some sort, or it could indicate the wearer should be excused from certain types of training in order to rehabilitate an injury.
The Sick Chit is just one element of the medical care process provided to the Plebe Candidates. It is employed in addition to the daily morning period where Plebe Candidates can seek medical care for any ailment, called sick call.
“The professional medical staff at USMMA provides high quality care to each Plebe Candidate and midshipman,” said Rick Sager, the Health System Administrator at the Office of Health Services (OHS) in Patten Hall. “We use the Sick Chit system to help manage that care and to ensure that those Plebe Candidates that have a medical requirement get the care and the follow up they require to keep them active and healthy.”
Because the Sick Chit is easy to see when it is being worn, USMMA cautions observers from concluding something is amiss for a Candidate that is wearing one. While the Sick Chit can excuse a Plebe Candidate from some training events, it doesn’t prevent them from attending training. In fact, the Indoctrination cadre make every effort to ensure that all Plebe Candidates attend all training. At the same time, the Clinical Staff at OHS is sensitive to the critical nature of training participation, so they carefully evaluate any Plebe Candidate’s medical condition and make activity recommendations to ensure wellness and healing while also allowing as much participation as possible. As of the writing of this article, 39 Indoctrination Plebe Candidates are wearing a Sick Chit, but the numbers change each day as conditions resolve or as others are reported.
The mere presence of a Sick Chit does not affect the Indoctrination status of a Plebe Candidate. “From a medical perspective, only a long term, serious medical condition can have an impact on the status of a Plebe Candidate,” said Sager. “Even in these rare situations, every effort to finding the pathway to healing is diligently pursued by the Clinical staff at OHS.”
The Sick Chit is a positive measure of medical support and shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but maybe it should have a different name?... something we will consider in the future.