Dan Giumelli and Donna Jones first learned about Heart of Australia from a baker. While working as two highly skilled and experienced cardiac rehabilitation nurses in the Mater Mackay Hospital, a baker from Moranbah came into their care.
The two nurses were advising him about some post-surgery services that he would need to travel to Mackay to undergo on a regular basis when the baker turned and said ‘but I already get those things done on the truck in Moranbah’.
We were completely confounded. What truck would be in Moranbah doing echos and stress tests? We assumed he was confused and told him he probably didn’t understand the specific kinds of tests he was going to need. But he was quite insistent.
Dan googled it, and they learned about the work of Heart of Australia.
Shortly afterwards Donna was lying on her couch one night when Dan texted her to turn on the ABC because the heart truck was on Australian Story.
In the midst of watching the show, they texted each other – Heart Week. For the last two years, Donna and Dan have volunteered their own time to join our road team west of Mackay in Moranbah as supporters of National Heart Week, in May.
The two bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the truck each time they visit, directly enhancing the patient experience. Donna and Dan are cardiac rehabilitation facilitators. Their professional roles involve supporting patients through rehabilitation after they have had a cardiac event and their symptoms have been addressed medically. Individually they have knowledge and experience in helping patients understand their post-cardiac medications, physiotherapy, exercise regimes, diet and mental health to ensure a healthy lifestyle post-event.
Donna and Dan used these skills to provide healthy lifestyle advice and packs to Heart of Australia patients lucky enough to visit the truck in Moranbah during Heart Week. They also organised a raffle resulting in a donation towards operating costs.
Donna said after the first year there was no question they would return for Heart Week 2018, “We’ve got to go back out there next year, we’ve got to do that again.”
“I’ve just learned that with the second truck they are going to be spending more time in Moranbah, and with me retiring, I’ll be happy to come out, and volunteer use my skills to help more and do their ECGs or whatever need to be done to help. Dan’s the same, though she’s still working.
“Cardiac nursing is what we’ve been doing for years, and so it is just so exciting to see the truck up and running in Moranbah.”
“It makes such a difference. Now we know all the different services the truck can provide, we can tell people who are from the region what’s on offer.
“There are people out there who just wouldn’t or couldn’t travel to get things checked out, that are coming to the heart truck and getting tested.
“Heart of Australia speeds up diagnosis, it saves bush people having to travel great distances for a specialist consultation – and it saves lives.
As Dan puts it: “We were fascinated when Dr Gomes took it on … taking specialist doctors out to the country is fabulous!”