News Archive: 2018


Mackay nurses

Posted on 7th September 2018


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!” 



Our “veteran specialist” is keen to stay on board

Posted on 7th September 2018

To each their own, but that Charleville-Roma part of Queensland is a “special place” for Heart of Australia veteran medical specialist Dr Rob Perel.

Why? Simple really – his Mum grew up in Charleville, and he still has cousins in the district, and they like to get together.

So that makes it easy to enjoy whatever free time he has after working his rostered monthly Roma and Charleville Heart of Australia mobile specialist clinics.

And 45-year-old Dr Rob is very much a willing player in the whole story of bringing specialist medicine to country Queenslanders – although he confesses to doubts early in the piece.

That was, he explains, because he and Heart of Australia founder, Dr Rolf Gomes, worked side-by-side in their final specialist cardiology studies when, even then, Rolf was “always talking about using specialised trucks to take specialists to the bush”.

With a laugh in his voice, Dr Rob says: “Rolfie just never stopped talking about the idea, and as time went by, I realised I was never not going to go on the truck.”

Dr Rob is entitled to be called a “veteran” because, in 2014, he was on the first truck clinic out to … you guessed it – Roma and Charleville.

But before any of that, Dr Rob headed down a different path – into veterinary medicine. After graduating from UQ in Brisbane with his vet science degree, he spent a year working in Dubbo NSW, followed by two years as a locum vet in Hervey Bay, where he started his “big switch” – into cardiology studies.

With his new medical degree, he and his wife – who was working on business studies – decided to jump countries and chose Toronto in Canada for two years.

Enter the first of their (now) three children and with studies complete – including Rob’s as a Cardiac ElectroPhysiology Specialist (for work on implant devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators) – it was back home to Brisbane.

Rob’s current CV includes working in no fewer than six Brisbane hospitals and one in Ipswich – plus he’s looking forward his first clinics on HEART2, the new Heart of Australia 34-wheel B-Double which features extra consultation rooms for a range of specialist services, including gynaecology, neurology and endocrinology.

Regarding the Heart of Australia service, Dr Rob says: “There’s so much that can be achieved for patients in a day on the truck … speeding up diagnosis, saving patients so much travel …being able to put minds at rest with good health reports”.