Connecting with communities: from Toowoomba to Townsville

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Bringing the story of Heart of Australia to bigger townships, where the realities of rural healthcare are often wholly unfamiliar, provides a special opportunity to show urban Australia exactly how our Heart Trucks operate.

In the past quarter, Heart of Australia has worked with a number of our dedicated partners to get involved in these key community events and connected with locals face-to-face.

COWBOYS VS BRONCOS

Recently we took HEART 4 to Townsville for the Cowboys Vs Broncos game, courtesy of our partners at Toyota. With the truck set up outside the stadium, people were able to walk through and chat to our field staff who were there on the day, spreading awareness about the communities close to the Townsville region that we service.

The impact of HEART 4 being there on the day was only elevated as Dr Gomes spoke on the field before the game about Heart of Australia’s work and vision.

“The Heart of Australia program is really about bringing medical specialists and medical equipment out to people in regional areas where these sort of services are simply not available,” Dr Gomes said.

“So by getting out to the people who would otherwise miss out, we can hopefully help them live a healthier life and hopefully make them live a bit longer.”

ELDERS FARMFEST

In early June we were able to take HEART 3 to Elders FarmFest in Toowoomba thanks to our Foundation Partner Arrow Energy, where we provided free health checks for attendees, measuring their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.

We heard stories from festival goers who themselves had felt the burden of distance when it comes to accessing quality healthcare.

One in particular recalled how, after experiencing a handful of health issues, he eventually had to give up the big property he owned out west in order to live closer to Toowoomba where he could be closer to on-demand medical care.

Another recounted that he was lucky to even be alive after suffering a heart attack while working out in the field of his farm – miles away from any emergency care services.

Both conversations, and the countless others we find our team having at these community events, shows how one thing remains abundantly clear: people care deeply about accessible healthcare. 

Being a part of these community events is something the Heart of Australia team love to do, however we wouldn’t be able to get to them without the help of our partners especially IOR who continue to fuel the Heart of Australia fleet even as we continue to expand. With their support, we can continue connecting with key communities as we keep moving on the highway to health.

Tickets on sale for the Heart of Australia 2022 Gala

Heart of Australia’s night of nights, the black tie gala evening, will be held Saturday August 20 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre – and this one’s promising to be bigger and better than before.

It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and put on your Sunday best as we come together to celebrate with our supporters and reflect on everything that we’ve accomplished over the past year.

The details:

Date: Saturday August 20, 2022

Venue: The Great Hall, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Brisbane

Tickets: $150 pp ($160 pp after July 20)

Dress code: Black tie

Tickets can be purchased via the link here: https://events.humanitix.com/heart-of-australia-gala-2022

Heart of Australia founder Dr Rolf Gomes is excited to welcome gala attendees on the night as he brings focus to the key achievements we’ve made over the last 12 months.

“We’re looking forward to this evening to thank our team, our partners and all of our friends who have helped Heart of Australia go from strength to strength over the past year,” Dr Gomes said.

“There’s going to be a lot to celebrate, including the launch of HEART 5 earlier this year which has expanded our services into community radiology and the Former Workers Program for mine and quarry workers.” For a snapshot of what Heart of Australia has achieved so far, watch this video:

We hope you can join us as we spend an evening hearing the inspiring stories of patients who are still here today thanks to our wonderful specialists and medical care teams, and looking towards the future for Heart of Australia and what is to come.

For any questions regarding the gala, or with help purchasing tickets, please contact Laura at Laura@heartofaustralia.com.

Five months on with HEART 5

When Heart of Australia launched its latest mobile clinic, HEART 5, the goal was simple, to deliver better health for rural and remote Australia. Thanks to its world-first battery-powered CT scanner from Philips and the support of I-MED Radiology and Resources Safety and Health Queensland, HEART 5 has been doing just that.

Since its launch five months ago, the mobile respiratory clinic has seen over 1000 patients and travelled over 20,000 kilometres.

Heart of Australia’s Head of Operations and Business Development, Ewan Wylie, believes without HEART 5 coming to these rural outposts, current, former and retired mine and quarry workers may not receive the treatment they need.

“When we come out to these rural towns, the people coming forward for testing typically haven’t had routine medical checks, and often struggle just to get into their GP for a basic check-up, let alone access the scans that we can deliver,” he says. 

“But, there’s a real camaraderie here with the retired miners, still looking after each other and encouraging each other to come forward in Collinsville. We want to see that spread across all of our other regions”

“HEART 5 means that Australians living in tiny towns of less than a thousand people suddenly have access to the same type of services that we expect in any of our major metropolitan hospitals.”

HEART 5 RETURNS TO COLLINSVILLE

Doug, a former underground miner from Collinsville, was the first ever patient to access HEART 5

A recent return trip to Collinsville meant the HEART 5 team caught up with its first-ever patient, 84-year-old retired miner, Doug Batchelor. 

Batchelor, who spent more than forty years underground mining Collinsville’s coal, believes the work HEART 5 is doing is essential for his mining community.

“I think it’s marvellous, a truck like this has been a long time coming, but I think it’s marvellous,” he says. 

“Everyone I’ve spoken to, right through the whole system at Heart of Australia, they’ve been good, they’ve rung me back. 

While still fit and active — walking, swimming and maintaining his garden nearly every day — Doug, who retired at 67 years of age knows the effects his years with dust can cause.

“The old fellows used to say it’s not the dust you can see, it’s the dust you can’t see that gets into you,” Batchelor adds. “There are a lot of miners who are getting older like me so I am frightened for some of the fellows who are in the sixties and seventies now because you only have to look at the dust coming out of some of these mines.”

Despite the potential health issues, Batchelor is still passionate about the industry, even taking regular groups through the Coalface Experience in town, detailing tourists through the history of Collinsville’s mining history.

“If I had my life over again, I’d go back again and again,” he adds.

INSIDE HEART 5

Heart of Australia program supporters NTI recently spent a day with us in Biloela filming with HEART 5 to better understand its capabilities and the significance of being able to screen those patients in rural and remote areas of Queensland. You can check it out here:

Now with HEART 5’s busy schedule delivering these important CT radiology services, the five-strong Heart of Australia fleet is helping to pave the road for accessible healthcare across Queensland.

As we continue to bridge the gap in rural healthcare, we look ahead to the future and the many possibilities to help bring this successful model to the national stage.

Former and retired mine and quarry workers can contact mine Dust Health Support Service on 1300 445 715  or info@minedusthealthsupport.com to apply for a free lung check.

Structural Heart Program Launches at RDAQ 2022

The Structural Heart Program officially launched at the RDAQ 2022 Conference in Gladstone on June 10th.

GPs working in rural and remote communities are invited to participate in the education series covering the latest innovations in structural heart treatments.

Through a series of four sessions (accessed either in-person or via webinar), our Structural and Interventional Cardiologists will discuss new therapies which are now becoming commonplace. These therapies include:

  • TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) for treatment of aortic stenosis
  • MitraClip for the treatment of mitral regurgitation
  • LAA Occlusion (Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion) for stroke prevention

Through the course of these four sessions, participants will learn:

  • What is the evidence?
  • What does the procedure involve?
  • How to choose the right patient
  • Follow up for patients returning home

The first session in the series, “Advances in Structural Heart Disease” was presented by Dr Nicholas Aroney, MBBS, BSc, FRACP. The recording of this session will be available for viewing soon.

If you would like to register for the Structural Heart Program and gain access to the sessions please follow the below link to complete a short, six question survey which will be used to determine knowledge of these specific therapies prior to engaging in the session.

Register and complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SMMLKT6

If you have any further questions about this program or the upcoming sessions, please contact Jasmin at Jasmin@heartofaustralia.com.

A big thank you to our supporters at Rural Doctor’s Association Queensland for helping to host the Structural Heart Program sessions.

The Structural Heart Program is brought to you in collaboration with Abbott and Medtronic.

Growing Our Own

Whilst over two-thirds of Australians live in urbanised cities, one in ten reside in outer regional areas, and around one in forty live remotely. One defining feature of geographic remoteness is that many Australians experience isolation when it comes to receiving healthcare services.

Heart of Australia’s NextGen Medics Program acts as a roadmap that enables medical or allied health students to experience the realities of working in rural healthcare. Kyle Fan,  one of our NextGen Medic Student Alumni, has always dreamed of working as a cardiac sonographer when he graduates his degree in cardiac sonography at the University of South Australia and is well on the path to that dream since taking up a position as a Medical Aide with Heart of Australia.

Kyle believed that the NextGen Medic Program would provide him with an “eye-opening experience that focused on mixing the outback’s challenges with learning more about the people and culture” as opposed to learning textbook scenarios. Upon his application, Kyle was successful in securing a place as a NextGen Medic student and as he began to immerse himself into the program, he explained that the program enabled himself and fellow medic students the ability to apply their academic understanding within genuine rural communities, helping those doing it tough.

It wasn’t until Kyle stepped onto the truck that he understood the severity of the healthcare inequity gap. There are vast numbers of people living rurally in Australia who have overcome challenges harder and greater than many of us in this lucky country would ever dream of. Kyle explained that one of his most memorable experiences was visiting the rural town, Theodore, where Dr Bruce Chater has been Theodore’s practice principal since 1981. Facilitating health clinics in rural and remote towns regularly where local medical professionals can work together with leading Heart of Australia specialists, relieves pertinent healthcare inequities. Kyle said, “it’s individuals like Dr Bruce Chater (the father of rural healthcare) who inspire me every day, I was determined to pay these opportunities within this program forward.”

A lack of understanding, due in part to the vast distance separating those living rurally and hearing stories of those who have unfortunately become ill, has led to fear for those living remotely. For students of the NextGen Medics Program, like Kyle, who have listened to and been inspired by past stories of those living rural, there are still so many equally tragic and inspirational stories yet to be told. The Heart of Australia NextGen program acts as a speedbump for those living rural, breaking down healthcare inequities due to distance and giving a new lease of life for first-time patients, all while providing invaluable learning opportunities for our students.

Since completing the NextGen program Kyle believes at the end of the day, “why shouldn’t those living rural have access to healthcare?” We should be able to give them, what is given to us in the city.

“Everyone deserves a fair go. Our patients are farmers who contribute to the community, grow our food and look after our livestock. They also pay taxes,” says Kyle.

“Giving everyone an equal opportunity and thinking about the bigger picture is important.” Living rural shouldn’t mean sacrificing one’s quality of life or lifespan.

The Heart of Australia NextGen program provides hope and greater accessibility of healthcare services to all Queenslanders living both rurally or very remotely. It provides future medical and allied health students just like Kyle the opportunity to kick-start their own journey in healthcare.

Since Kyle has completed the program, his dream to work in cardiac sonography has been reinvigorated, and he is excited to start the path to his career journey with Heart of Australia – first as a member of the NextGen Medics program and now as a Medical Aide, commencing sonography training with Heart of Australia in 2023.

Applications are now open for the 2022 NextGen Medic Program. To learn more about the program and to apply, please click here: https://www.heartofaustralia.com/nextgen-medics/

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