News Archive: May 2020

“In Their Own Words” / Lindsay MacDonald

Posted on 28th May 2020

We often receive inspiring and powerful messages from patients and their loved ones regarding our service. With their permission, we share them with you, as told ‘In Their Own Words’.

“I would be grateful if you would pass on our thanks to the Heart of Australia team who were in Blackall last week. My husband, Nigel, had an appointment with Dr Dashwood at 10 am last Friday (21st Feb). Following the consultation, Dr Dashwood requested that Nigel have an echo test. Reception advised us to come back at 3.30 pm for that to be done.

As we live 60 km from town on a black soil road, and storms had been coming up every afternoon, it was not possible for us to wait in town that long. Stormy clouds were already starting to appear at 11 am. If we had waited, it would have been 5.30 by the time we got home, given it takes an hour or so. I knew we could not take that risk. We simply can’t afford to get stuck on the road, as Nigel is 84 and in a wheelchair, and I am 77. There was no one who would come looking for us if we didn’t turn up.

The team quickly showed its flexibility, and even though it probably did not suit them very well, they rescheduled the test to 11.30 am. We certainly appreciated this accommodation to our circumstances. And it was just as well, as we were home by 1 pm, and it started raining half an hour later. That earlier appointment made all the difference to us.

We were very happy that over the next succeeding days, we have ended up with 5 inches (125mm). We are now cut off from town, but are very content, having been able to fulfil the appointment and are now enjoying the tinges of green grass coming through.

I was also grateful for the support of the men who assisted with the wheelchair, not just in and out of the bus, but also in and out of our vehicle. It was most appreciated.

Please pass on our thanks to everyone.

Kind regards,

Lindsay MacDonald.”

A medical student with a rural heart.

Posted on 28th May 2020

Brianna is a rural medical student in her final year of medical school at UNSW, currently based in Wagga Wagga. She reached out to our team, with the support of her university, and asked if she could spend a month on board one of our heart trucks as part of a university elective.

Brianna was keen to work alongside our team, and experience the delivery of mobile specialist medical services to rural and regional Australians first hand.

We were delighted to be able to accommodate her request, and Brianna recently completed a month onboard HEART 2 with our HOA team.

Having grown up in Toowoomba, Brianna has a solid understanding of the challenges faced by people living outside capital cities when it comes to accessing healthcare.

“I grew up in Toowoomba, and as I grew older, I realised that even residents of relatively large towns can find it difficult to get specialist healthcare.

And thinking about that, I couldn’t imagine the stress remote area Australians would feel if they required the same,” Brianna said.

“In year 12, I had the opportunity to hear Dr Gomes speak at the Heart of Australia launch in 2014. I was already interested in rural health care, but after hearing him talk, I was very interested in such a unique initiative for specialist healthcare in the bush.

I had the chance to talk to him, and he told me that if I was ever doing a medical elective, I should let him know, so I did.

“A few years of medical school later I reached out, and I was thrilled when we found a way for me to carry out my elective on the Heart Truck.

Brianna was keen to learn all she could about Heart of Australia’s unique model for delivering specialist services, and to enhance her understanding of the challenges faced in delivering and accessing rural healthcare.

“One of the many reasons I’m so interested in rural healthcare is the number of unique challenges and issues that are created by the vast distances involved.

It takes several different people and organisations, each doing their bit, like pieces in a massive puzzle to deliver rural healthcare. Heart of Australia is a huge part of that.

“I firmly believe that in a country like ours, there is no reason that anyone should miss out on specialist healthcare.

And the way Heart of Australia brings specialist services to outback Queensland is revolutionary.

“During my time on the Heart Truck, I was welcomed with open arms, and quickly became part of the team. It’s a big family, and I’m so happy I could be part of it.

Being on HEART 2 was an extraordinary experience. It opened my eyes to the massive delivery reach these specialist clinics have. They are providing access to specialist options days, hours and hundreds of kilometres closer than ever before.

And that ease of access prompts more people to look into their health.

“The patients that I interacted with were so beautiful and lovely. The appreciation they showed was second to none. I got the opportunity to talk to some patients about why I was there.

Explaining that I’m heavily interested in rural healthcare. I can’t even describe the smiles I got. These communities don’t just want specialist healthcare, they need it.

And I’m so proud I could be part of providing that.

“Battling the grip of distance, specialist doctors make up a big chunk of the overall puzzle. But my time on the truck also showed me how crucial the non-medical team behind Heart of Australia’s operations is and the important role they play in delivering health care to rural communities.

And without all those impact-driven, passionate people working day-to-day on the trucks and at HQ, nothing would be possible.

Elements such as location and set up, all the way down to maintaining a secure and reliable internet connection may seem trivial, but they are essential to delivering the service.

“The logistical nightmare Heart of Australia deals with on a daily basis might be seen as a deal-breaker to many – enough to stop you from even starting such a service. However, the Heart of Australia team consistently battles through these hurdles, solving them one by one in order to deliver their desperately needed service to rural Australians.

Having spent a month on the truck, I know that’s revolutionary.”

“Health is a universal language, driven and reinforced by science.

But the people aspect is what drives me. Assisting patients to navigate tricky times, helping them to improve their lives, and ensuring they have access to quality medical care is what drives me.

And I know it’s what drives Heart of Australia.”

Heart of Australia will be officially launching a pilot student program, NextGen Medics in July 2020, with the first student rotation taking place later this year.

Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.