News Archive: May 2016
Queensland’s pioneering Heart of Australia program delivering specialist cardiac health services to rural and remote communities, is again expanding its territory – this time scheduling the far Central Western town of Winton on its regular clinic tours.
Winton will become the 12th town to receive regular visits by cardiologists and support staff who consult patients in Heart of Australia’s semi-trailer-hauled mobile clinic.
“It’s amazing that demand for our service has grown to 12 towns on our Queensland circuits and Winton will be a real milestone, achieved in just over 18 months since we launched with five towns”, says Heart of Australia founder and lead cardiologist, Dr Rolf Gomes.
“Our team are genuinely looking forward to welcoming the people of the Winton district to our rolling clinics visits.
“They’ll be joining the several thousand bush Queenslanders who, through referrals by their local GPs, have become Heart of Australia patients since our launch with foundation partner Arrow Energy as an Australian first in October 2014”, Dr Gomes said.
“In fact, since then we’ve had referrals across Queensland for over 1,800 patients and we’re pleased that we were able to identify and help hundreds of people suffering critical, life-threatening heart problems.”
Dr Gomes said country Australians have endured for generations – “and still today face” – a 44% higher risk of dying from heart disease than city-dwellers, but with Heart of Australia’s breakthrough mobile specialist clinic service – “the tables are being turned on this terrible disadvantage caused by our nation’s distances”.
“Our vision is to expand the service geographically and increase the specialties on offer to patients to help save the lives of country Australians for years to come” Dr Gomes said.
The Heart of Australia service also travels to Dalby, Goondiwindi, St George, Charleville, Roma, Longreach, Emerald, Barcaldine, Hughenden, Charters Towers and Moranbah.
He won’t tell you because he’s a quiet, reflective sort of bloke, but Glenn Yates has been effectively the Heart of Australia “road boss” from even before the service actually put rubber to the road in October 2014.
Glenn became involved early in the planning and building of the groundbreaking Heart of Australia cardiology clinic-on-wheels; he was until recently the only on-staff rig driver; and from behind the wheel, he plays a crucial role in ensuring that the rig is on time and ready for patients at all scheduled stops across Southwest Queensland. And why not? He’s been driving in one role or another since his Dad started him learning on the tractor on the family’s Fernvale farm when Glenn was just eight.
A fascination with heavy trucks hauling everything from garden soil to gravel and logged timber has continued, including time delivering natural spring water – in twin-trailer B-double tankers – for bottling. Even before he left school, Glenn was driving in his own after-classes contract slashing business. Then came 12 years in his family earth-moving company, including contracts with the Beaudesert Shire Council working on the (then) new water supply main pipelines from Jimboomba. Then he launched his own trailer-and-horse-float manufacturing business under the still-registered Trophy Trailers name.
At age 49, Glenn reckons he’s in “the best job” of his life so far, because … “Heart of Australia is an extremely worthwhile service that was long overdue”. “Those people out there in rural and remote communities are fantastic people … I think the best jobs in life are in helping people … that’s what Heart of Australia is doing”.
As to the future, Glenn says he can visualise Heart of Australia being more and more valuable to the bush as more partnerships are formed with services such as the Royal Flying Doctors – and he’d “love to see Heart of Australia becoming a national identity” for the bush. Meanwhile, he’s happy to step up to any extra needs on the road – which is how he got to be the clinic-on-wheels staff cook.
Interview by Peter MacDonald