News Archive: Jun 2019
Heart of Australia has a bold mission: to ensure Queenslanders have access to the medical specialist services they need, where they need them. We work tirelessly on our mission by delivering specialist medical investigation and treatment clinics to regional, rural and remote area communities. After many months of quiet, behind-the-scenes planning, designing and building, Heart of Australia has moved into its new home at 109 Honour Avenue, Chelmer.
The coordination and management involved in making it happen on a day to day basis are complex, combining the challenges of running a modern specialist medical clinic, with a trucking logistics company and a touring troop of specialists you need to feed and house each day.
To pull it off successfully you need a team of people who are driven by the big picture of the mission, but who are highly skilled in their area of expertise, and who have excellent attention to detail. On any given day, our teams are speaking to manufacturers and trucking firms regarding vehicle and systems maintenance and future builds, talking with local GPs regarding referrals, liaising with the admin staff of our specialists regarding priority patients, flights to site and more, and of course, speaking with patients to book their appointments and help ease any anxiety they have about attending the truck for the first time.
As the number of towns and the number of heart trucks has grown, so have the logistical challenges. To date, we have been juggling operation management from several sites, but we have now found our (hopefully) forever home in Chelmer in a for-purpose renovated Queenslander.
Our new HQ now acts as the central control hub for all our operations. We manage all our activities, liaise with our specialists, communities and local GPs and perform all the booking coordination for patients for all our heart trucks across all our towns.
Our headquarters are co-located with Dr Gomes’ private practice – MediHearts, which is located on the ground floor. This co-location is an invaluable step forward for Heart of Australia. While Dr Gomes was sad to forego his dual location practice (Taringa and Ipswich), the dramatic reduction in travelling times means both Heart of Australia and MediHearts have greater access to his time. As we have as yet, been unable to clone him, this is the next best thing.
The building itself is beautiful and provides a calm and supportive working space for our hard-working and dedicated administration and operations team. While their work is often behind-the-scenes compared to the work of our dedicated mobile heart truck teams, their roles are just as vital in our efforts to save lives and deliver health equity to people in regional Queensland.
Dr Gomes recently headed north to visit Sarina, Proserpine, Ayr, and Palm Island, each earmarked for inclusion in the forthcoming northern expansion of Heart of Australia’s mobile clinical services.
The northern expansion, made possible thanks to the funding commitment from the Federal Government, will see Heart of Australia progressively increase the number of communities we service from 16 to 25, with the new towns including Richmond, Weipa, Cooktown, Sarina, Palm Island, Biloela, Childers, Proserpine and Ayr.
Dr Gomes’ recent trip to speak with the communities was an essential step in making the expansion a reality. Dr Gomes spent his time meeting with members of the local communities, including local GPs, to discuss Heart of Australia’s expansion plans.
“Local GPs are the best-informed people when it comes to understanding the local medical needs in the communities where they live and work. Their knowledge and insights will be invaluable in helping Heart of Australia to develop plans for the new northern expansion, to ensure our plans reflect community-specific needs,” Dr Gomes said.
The trip also allowed the Heart of Australia team to identify potential sites to host the heart truck during future visits in each of the towns, where the mobile clinics will be highly visible and easy for local community members to access.
The next major step towards advancing the northern expansion will be the design and manufacture of a new mobile clinic.
“In order to service the additional northern towns without compromising the services being offered to existing communities, we need to design and build a new dedicated vehicle for the expanded northern route,” said Dr Gomes.
This new truck, HEART 4, like the three preceding heart trucks, will be designed by Dr Gomes, who is a trained engineer as well as a cardiologist. Dr Gomes will incorporate any new knowledge and local insights gained during this trip to the lessons learned from four years of delivering specialist services to rural and regional towns via mobile clinics in designing HEART 4.
Excitement is growing, with the design and build of HEART 4 set to commence next month, once the funding for the expansion becomes available. The build of the custom mobile medical clinic should take approximately 12 months to complete, allowing services to the expanded northern route to commence in mid-2020.