Canberra steps up with recognition for bush service
The Federal Government has recognised the positive impact of the Heart of Australia program for rural and remote-area Queenslanders with a million-dollar grant towards “on-going costs”.
Project founder, Dr Rolf Gomes, welcoming the grant, said: “This will boost confidence for me and my team to push on with planning to add more services”.
In a typically low-key, country town meeting outside the Heart of Australia mobile clinic in Dalby on August 11, Dr Gomes welcomed visiting Assistant Federal Health Minister Dr David Gillespie MP and local-area Federal MP David Littleproud.
Dr Gomes said: “The inequity in medical access for rural patients is exactly what our Heart of Australia program is targeting … this new gesture of recognition from the Federal Government means that we can have confidence to consider expanding both our geographical reach across the bush and adding extra services for the people out there”.
He told Dr Gillespie that since the Heart of Australia launch in October 2014 “we have seen more than 3,300 patients during 850 local town visits; we have saved more than 120 Queenslanders suffering previously-undiagnosed critical cardiac conditions; and we have referred at least 30 patients for open heart surgery”.
Dr Gillespie said: “After practising medicine for 33 years, I can appreciate this impressive service Dr Gomes has developed for regional communities”.
Media reporters at the meeting pressed both Dr Gomes and Dr Gillespie about why the Queensland State Government has so far failed to help the Heart of Australia project.
Dr Gillespie said: “I call on the state Government to recognise this great service and offer all encouragement to the State to get on board”.
Dr Gomes, disclosing for the first time that Queensland Health has in fact referred more than 350 patients to Heart of Australia, said that “there’s certainly still a place at our table for the State Government”.
He added appreciation to Queensland Coalition Senator Barry O’Sullivan for “hard-working efforts in support of the Heart of Australia program”.