Mobile clinic celebrates two years on the road with 4000 heart checks

18Oct2016

Australia’s first mobile cardiology and respiratory clinic has clocked up two years on the road with more than 4,200 consultations across Queensland.

Launched in October 2014 with foundation partner Arrow Energy, Heart of Australia brings medical specialists to people in regional and rural communities, where demand for heart services outstrips specialist availability.

The service has just marked two years saving lives across the state, conducting 4,283 consultations with 2,388 patients.

More than 250 patients have required urgent treatment, 30 were referred for open heart surgery, and it is estimated 82 lives have been saved by identifying undiagnosed, life threatening cardiac conditions.

Aboriginal woman Sharron Jackson is one of these patients.

“Years ago I was told I had a heart murmur but I never thought anything of it,” Sharron said.

“It wasn’t until I got the flu last year and was slow in recovery and the doctor thought I might have something wrong.

“I was referred to Heart of Australia and I asked who is that and what are they and I refuse to go to Brisbane!

“I hate big cities – it’s natural for people in my culture to want to be out and about in open areas.

“I was very surprised to find out I could go to Dalby for my consultation at the truck and then Dr Gomes told me I had some heart damage...and the invincible me sort of left me,” she said.

Almost 20 per cent of Heart of Australia’s patients are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“If I didn’t get help from the truck my life would have been much shorter…which would have meant I wouldn’t have been able to finish my degree, I wouldn’t have seen my grandson graduate from high school, and all those sorts of things that impact your whole family and whole community,” Sharron said.

“Heart of Australia has not only extended my life it is also helping close the gap, even by just a tiny bit on life expectancy, between non-indigenous and indigenous people.

“If the clinic could travel across Australia it would be fantastic because the real remote indigenous communities are where the service is needed to help close the gap even more.”

Cardiologist and Heart of Australia founder Dr Rolf Gomes said it was great the Heart of Australia program could provide a direct benefit to the health and lives of so many Queenslanders and also show how mobile solutions could be embraced to bring more services to more people in a cost effective way.

“With the support of our foundation partner Arrow Energy and program sponsors, we are more committed than ever to finding a way for people in the bush to have access to city-quality cardiology services,” Dr Gomes said.

“In the past two years that the Heart of Australia program has been on the road, we’ve seen close to 2,400 patients – this has confirmed the real need for this service in regional and remote areas.

“We are not just bringing the specialist expertise; we are also bringing transportable health infrastructure to these communities,” he said.

Arrow Energy Vice President External Affairs and Tenure Management Leisa Elder said the success of the program has been extremely gratifying for Arrow.

“It’s great to see the positive difference Heart of Australia has made to thousands of lives across Queensland.

“Not only is the service addressing the level of displacement across the state, providing care to those most at need, but equally it is raising awareness amongst rural and indigenous communities about the importance of recognising the warning signs and having checks to prevent worse outcomes.

“It’s been very rewarding to have helped the service get off the ground and grow to attract other financial support so that it can go from strength to strength.”

Heart of Australia travels to Dalby, Goondiwindi, St George, Charleville, Roma, Emerald, Barcaldine, Longreach, Winton, Hughenden, Charters Towers and Moranbah.

VIDEO: Listen to Sharron and other Indigenous patients’ stories.

Further information is available at http://www.heartofaustralia.com/

Program deliverables

Since launching in October 2014, the Heart of Australia program has:

  • conducted 606 regional clinics
  • assessed more than 2,380 patients
  • identified 250 urgent cases
  • 230 urgent procedures
  • 30 patients referred for open heart surgery
  • 82 lives saved
  • identified 1,107 patients who require ongoing cardiology treatment
  • saved each patient 861km per visit in travel (on average)
  • 17 per cent of patients have been Indigenous.

Fast facts

  • The clinic, towed by a Kenworth prime mover, has two consulting rooms, ultrasound, electrocardiogram and cardiac stress testing equipment.
  • Patients need a GP referral before undergoing a Heart of Australia consultation and specialist testing if required.
  • Heart of Australia is an extension of Arrow Energy’s Brighter Futures community investment fund which has contributed more than $17 million to community projects across Queensland since 2011.
  • Heart of Australia’s other key sponsors include Bayer Australia, St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital, IOR Petroleum, Kenworth, RACQ, Telstra Country Wide, Brown & Hurley, QML Pathology, Servier, GT Insurance, Regional Express Airlines and Bridgestone Australia.
  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects one in six Australians and, on average, kills one Australian every 12 minutes (National Heart Foundation of Australia).
  • People living in rural or remote areas are 44 per cent more likely to die from heart disease than their city-dwelling counterparts.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Dina Cavallucci – Heart of Australia
Phone: 0417 722 903
Email: dina@heartofaustralia.com

Alex Elder – Arrow Energy
Phone: 07 3012 4390/ 0400 693 248
Email: media@arrowenergy.com.au

Page last updated: 4 May 2017