The very heart of Australia

Posted on 16th July 2015


IT started with an idea to provide cardiology diagnosis to remote and rural Australia. Now the Heart of Australia truck brings specialist cardiology services to rural communities on a 25 meter-long, custom-designed clinic-on-wheels, driven by a Kenworth K200 prime mover.

The purpose-built, self-sufficient trailer provides two private clinic rooms, a testing room and a reception area for patients. It is wheelchair accessible and fully air-conditioned.

The Australian-first cardiology Clinic on Wheels program was launched late last year and has treated more than 1200 people so far.

The Heart of Australia program founder Dr Rolf Gomes said the service had also saved dozens of lives.

“Close to 50 patients with potentially life-threatening conditions have been identified and successfully treated,” he said.

“So it’s providing a very definite health benefit out in areas where these services are non-existent.”

Dr Gomes told the North Queensland Register he had immigrated to Australia as a child and had received every chance he could hope for in being able to better himself.

After becoming a cardiologist, he decided give something back to the country that he said had given him so much.

He approached Senator Barry O’Sullivan with the idea for a cardiac truck in the hope of attracting some government assistance.

With the support of Senator Fiona Nash, they were successful in obtaining $500,000 to buy and set up the Heart of Australia truck.

Dr Gomes provides the operating costs and his services as a cardiologist.

You only have to look at the statistics to see what a great benefit this truck has already had, and what an incredible service it is for rural and remote Australia.

To date, visiting the facility has pre- vented a possible 16 deaths; 93 people have either avoided hospitalisation or had reduced stays in hospital; there has been an average of 513km travel per patient visit saved; 237 people required ongoing treatment; nine patients were referred for open-heart surgery; 40 others were referred for urgent procedures; 49 cases were identified as urgent; and there were 1126 episodes of care – all in 55 regional clinics.

“This is the most effective way of bringing medical services to the whole of regional Australia. In 50 years we will look back and recognise this as a pioneering model of health service delivery,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

Ms Nash said the federal government must assist this type of project with funding.

“We need to think outside the square, and this project does just that and it can be adapted to all levels of health,” she said.
Winton Shire Councillor Bruce Mann said having the service delivered to outback towns took away a lot of the anxiety for older people, who would normally have to travel great distances and pay big dollars to access the service in the coastal cities.

Close to 50 patients with potentially life-threatening conditions have been identified and successfully treated.

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