Posted on 7th April 2020

Plans are proceeding for Heart of Australia to start delivering services to eight new towns in coming months, including Banana, Biloela, Childers, Middlemount, Moura, Richmond, Theodore & Weipa.

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting some challenges, but Heart of Australia is well-positioned to respond. Our service delivery model is flexible, adaptable and innovative, and our team is highly skilled, resourceful and dedicated. These are vital assets in challenging times, such as these. There may be some slight delays to our expansion, and the format of our service delivery might be slightly different for the next few months. Still, our commitment to rural and regional communities remains as strong as ever.

Before the pandemic, and in preparation for this exciting expansion, Dr Gomes travelled to visit these towns in late February, accompanied by Juanita Wheeler, who heads up Strategic Projects and Partnerships, and Siana and Chris from our Logistics Team.

Dr Gomes said the primary purpose of the trip was to meet with members of the local communities, including local GPs, to discuss the expansion, and learn more about the specific specialist medical needs of individual communities.

“Local GPs are the best-informed people when it comes to understanding the local medical needs in the communities where they live and work. Their knowledge and insights are invaluable in helping Heart of Australia to develop plans for the latest expansion, to ensure our plans reflect community-specific needs,” Dr Gomes said.

“We will commence operations in each of the new towns by offering cardiology services, along with respiratory testing. There is the potential to offer additional specialist services once we establish ourselves in a town. Still, the decisions regarding which additional services to offer are heavily informed and influenced by insights provided by local GPs.”

“One of the major takeaways from the expansion tour is how unique the needs of each community are. One town will have a great need for endocrinology services but drive a few hours down the road, and their need is for gastroenterology, psychology or neurology.”

Heart of Australia currently offers a range of specialist medical services across different locations in Queensland, including cardiology, gynaecology, neurology, gastroenterology, urology, endocrinology and sleep and respiratory functions.

Dr Gomes said the decisions regarding which specialist services to offer in which locations are not a one-size-fits-all situation.

“Each town has different needs and various capabilities to respond to those needs. The services we offer need to reflect that, ensuring we bring services that are in high demand that would otherwise require extensive and expensive travel for patients and that we don’t duplicate a service being delivered well locally.

“The insights we gain from sitting down, face to face and talking with the people who are delivering front line medical care in these towns is invaluable. We combine their insights with our own five years worth of lessons learned since we commenced operations, helping us to roll out services in new locations as seamlessly as possible.

The trip also allowed members of the logistics team to identify potential sites to host the Heart Truck during future visits, identify driving routes that can accommodate oversized mobile medical clinics-on-wheels and search for appropriate accommodation for the team when in town.

Dr Gomes said the trip was a great success, due in no small part to the interest, enthusiasm and support of the local GPs and community members.

“As advocates for the health of their communities, local GPs are keen to see quality specialist services available closer to home for their patients. They understand how difficult and expensive it can be for their patients and supporting family members to make long trips to the city. We share a commitment to ending this burden for their community as much as possible.

“We are grateful for the support we are receiving from local health providers, and we are eager to work with them to help improve access to quality specialist health care in the communities they serve.”
Heart of Australia is currently accepting referrals for cardiology testing for the first clinics in Moura, Banana, Theodore and Middlemount – with clinic dates to be confirmed in coming weeks. You will need a referral from your GP to make an appointment.

If you have a cardiac concern, please visit your GP and discuss it with them. Together you can decide if a referral to Heart of Australia is the best course of action.

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