Life-saving specialist heart care is coming to rural and remote Queenslanders under a partnership between Heart of Australia and Arrow Energy, launched today.
Heart of Australia, an Australian-first mobile cardiac and respiratory service, will tomorrow begin a circuit of south-western Queensland, visiting Dalby, Roma, Charleville, St George and Goondiwindi each fortnight.
Project founder Dr Rolf Gomes said the largest, custom-built mobile medical clinic in Australia would extend capital city levels of care to people who might otherwise miss out.
“Heart disease is a leading cause of death in Australia,” Dr Gomes said.
“However, people living in rural or remote areas are up to 44 per cent more likely to die from the condition than their city-dwelling counterparts.
“For some people in these areas, it can be a day’s drive or longer to see a specialist.
“Clearly this means many people will put off what could be a life-saving appointment – but having a service that comes to them will make things a whole lot easier.”
Arrow Energy CEO Andrew Faulkner said his company had become Heart of Australia’s foundation partner to improve services in Arrow’s regional operational areas.
“Arrow has long held that health is a key pillar of its corporate social responsibility and this is why we have supported many community projects to improve health outcomes in our areas of operation,” Mr Faulkner said.
“Heart of Australia takes this to another level. With it, we have become part of something that will make a difference to many people’s lives.
“Rural and regional people will now have access to world-class facilities and expertise in their own towns, and this is the thing that most appeals to me.”
Heart of Australia was launched in Toowoomba’s Queen’s Park this morning by the Hon Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry and Federal Member for Groom.
The Heart of Australia mobile clinic is a custom-built, $1.5million, 25m-long semi-trailer with specialist diagnostic equipment and technology, staffed by a team of cardiologists and respiratory specialists on a rotating roster.
Dr Gomes said the mobile service would provide diagnosis, treatment and follow-up for a range of cardiovascular and respiratory conditions..
“Heart of Australia has everything that my city practice has, so people won’t have to drive for days to see a specialist,” he said.
Dr Gomes surveyed more than 180 regional GPs who were showing increasing frustration at seeing patients who needed specialist attention they couldn’t access where they lived.
“They overwhelmingly supported a Heart of Australia-type program,” he said.
“Heart of Australia has been created to change the existing situation. My firm belief is that we will be saving lives.”
The Heart of Australia service will travel in fortnightly rotations throughout rural Queensland from tomorrow.
The first circuit will include five towns in Queensland’s southwest — Dalby, Roma, Charleville, St George and Goondiwindi.
Heart of Australia fast facts:
- The clinic, towed by a Kenworth prime mover, has two consulting rooms, new ultrasound and cardiac stress testing equipment. It can instantly share test results with other GPs and hospitals and allow other specialists to dial-in through state-of-the-art telemedicine capabilities.
- Patients need a GP referral before undergoing a Heart of Australia consultation and specialist testing if required. Clinic consultations are a normal fee-for-service, in line with metropolitan rates.
- GPs in the program’s initial areas of Dalby, St George, Charleville, Goondiwindi and Roma can download referral forms or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Heart of Australia is an extension of Arrow’s ongoing community investment. Arrow’s Brighter Futures program last year invested more than $4.6 million in 117 community projects across Queensland.
- Aside from Arrow’s foundation partnership, Heart of Australia has received funding and in-kind support from the Australian and Queensland governments, Bayer Australia, St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, IOR Petroleum, Kenworth, Telstra Country Wide, Brown and Hurley, GT Insurance and Skytrans.
- Cardiovascular disease affects one in six Australians and, on average, kills one Australian every 12 minutes. It is the leading cause of death in Australia and caused 43,900 deaths in 2012. CVD deaths are largely preventable with access to the right service.
- See the clinic’s construction in this timelapse video.
Media contact: Sophia Arthur, 0421 356 714 or email@example.com