News Archive: Jul 2020
Before Heart of Australia came to Blackall, Lindsay and her husband Nigel had to travel over 600 kilometres to Roma so Nigel could visit a travelling specialist. With kangaroos making night travel hazardous, a 15-minute consultation with a specialist quickly turned into a two-day event. Three days if the appointment was in the afternoon.
According to Lindsay, this all changed when Heart of Australia expanded its route to include Blackall.
“I first heard about Heart of Australia from a friend almost five years ago. It had just started its operations, visiting a handful of towns. We immediately knew what a huge impact that kind of service might have, not just in our lives, but for everyone in our community, so we crossed our fingers and hoped that one day Heart of Australia would come to Blackall,” Lindsay said.
“So when we heard the Heart Truck was on its way to Blackall, we were overjoyed. We knew it was going to change the lives of so many people in our community.”
Lindsay said as challenging as it was for Nigel and herself to make the three-day trips to access the services he needed, they counted themselves as the lucky ones.
“You need to understand that life out here is so different from life in a big city. We have diverse needs, diverse challenges and diverse responsibilities. Nigel and I were lucky enough to be in a position where we could make the three-day trip when we had to. It wasn’t ideal. It was very challenging, but we could do it. But we know people who couldn’t do it. So they didn’t. And that’s scary.
“Now that Heart of Australia is in Blackall, everyone can access reliable, specialist healthcare.
Lindsay recently wrote to the Heart of Australia team to thank them for their service, and their ability to understand and be flexible in responding to the unique challenges for rural life.
“The staff and facilities on board are second to none. It’s a better service then you’d get at most stationary clinics. The team always go above and beyond, all while being very welcoming. We get helped in and out of the truck using their wheelchair system and are always taken care of.
“Nothing is ever an issue with Heart of Australia. When we explained that a testing appointment in the afternoon would impact our ability to drive home on isolated dirt roads safely, they immediately changed around their schedule to respond to our needs. They understand that rural life has its hurdles, and are quick to accommodate.
“My husband Nigel has been on our property his whole life. It’s 22,000 acres of sheep, cattle and a whole lot of dirt about an hour from Blackall. We love it. We love the land, and we love the community. We wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, and Heart of Australia is helping us to stay here and stay healthy, ” Lindsay said.
“The Heart Truck is a wonderful solution to an almost crippling obstacle, a hurdle that has hindered generations of rural Australians before us.
“Heart of Australia coming to Blackall has meant the world to us. It’s a service our community can rely on. The Heart Trucks mean so much more than cutting our specialists visits from three-days to three hours – including the two hours of travel. They’ve changed our life, our community and the face of rural healthcare.
“We couldn’t imagine Blackall without Heart of Australia.”
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, our Heart Trucks have hit the open road once again, allowing us to deliver our mobile clinics to communities where they are needed.
These communities include six new towns which have been added to our routes in recent months. We are very proud to have delivered on the promises we made to expand our services to these towns in 2020, despite the significant logistical challenges posed by the pandemic.
Our newly updated routes map is now available on our website.
We continue to work to expand to more new towns in the north and far north Queensland, which will be facilitated by one of our new Heart Trucks, HEART 4, currently under construction and scheduled for completion by the end of 2020.
During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, we opted to temporarily park our trucks in strategic locations as a precautionary measure. We continued to provide static service during this time, both from the parked heart trucks and from temporary venues in other towns on our routes with the support of those communities.
This return to regular services is possible thanks to the commitment of everyday people throughout Queensland who worked diligently to ensure the pandemic did not spread further throughout our state. We are grateful for all their efforts.
While we are back on the road, the logistics of operating in this new environment is proving to be quite challenging, particularly given the dramatic reduction in available commercial flights to transport our specialists and the team to and from rural and regional locations. We are determined to make it work, but we do ask you for your patience should any clinic variations arise due to sudden cancellations of flights or other COVID-19 related logistical challenges.
We will, of course, continue to exercise the utmost care in regards to cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and applying physical distancing protocols to ensure the safety of all patients and staff.
The situation remains fluid and evolves rapidly from one day to the next. However, with the support of our team, our patients and the communities we serve, we are once again hitting the highway to health with confidence.