A heartfelt, inspiring and at times heartbreaking address from Charters Towers’ patient, Sarah Valentine, captivated and enthralled the audience at the 2018 Heart of Australia Gala Dinner.
A few years ago Sarah had a series of unexplained falls and accidents, one of which resulted in a head injury. She, of course, consulted her GP as her primary health practitioner. Her doctor referred for to the Heart Truck for further investigation.
Sarah was well aware of the challenges typically faced by rural patients when seeking specialist medical care and was thrilled to learn that she would not need to travel to the coast for an initial consultation. The Heart Truck would be coming to Charters Towers.
“It is difficult to travel on trains or buses to coastal areas for specialist treatment when in severe pain or without a chaperone. On my first visit to The Heart of Australia Truck, I was collected at my front gate by a friend and within seven minutes I was being greeted in the Heart Truck by the wonderful Maria.”
The team were able to perform a range of tests and assessments and were able to prescribe appropriate medications and lifestyle changes the next day. Sarah’s condition improved and the accidents ceased. Beyond this, Sarah credits the team with inspiring her better quality of life.
“Before my engagement with the Heart of Australia team, my leisure time was practically non-existent and I was, at times, non-compliant regarding my health. I did things that sometimes stressed me but now I have learned to say no.
“If the doctors and all the people connected with the Heart Truck went to all this trouble to treat me and give me a better quality of life, the least I can do is toe the line. So I am happy to obey doctor’s orders and consequently, I have found a physical and emotional balance and the subtle changes to my daily routine have had a positive effect on my health and well-being.”
Sarah considers herself lucky to have had her life touched by Heart of Australia.
“I know of some other Heart of Australia patients and they live in more isolation than I. However, we all share the same opinion that our lives have radically changed for the better and at last, we have peace of mind. I also know of five people who had heart attacks and died because of the tyranny of distance. In an ideal situation, many more isolated patients could share in our liberating experience and have a fighting chance.”
“I am indebted to you all. Dr Gomes, Dr Kostner and Dr Hilling-Smith, you have lifted my spirit, you touched my soul and I thank you with every beat of my heart.”
In late October, patients, team members, doctors and supporters gathered to celebrate the achievements of this very significant milestone year at a black-tie Gala Dinner.
We hold the dinner annually. Our celebrations focus on the work of the entire team whose combined efforts deliver the services, as well as the patients we have been able to see and the lives we have saved.
This year’s achievements were particularly significant with the launch of our brand new 34-wheeler, B-double mobile clinic, HEART2.
As the beautifully dressed guests converged on The Royal International Convention Centre at the Brisbane Showgrounds, they were welcomed in the forecourt by HEART2.
For many guests, this was their first opportunity to see the truck in real life, because, like our much loved original truck, HEART1, it spends all its time delivering services where they are needed, and does not return home to Brisbane.
Guests were invited to take a tour of our new clinic, with Dr Gomes onsite acting as one of our tour guides. HEART2 is significantly larger than HEART1, featuring extra consultation rooms for a range of newly added specialist services, including gynaecology, neurology and endocrinology.
Once inside guests were welcomed by the voices of the Fairholme Girls Choir, before being treated to a delicious 2-course meal. Guests heard from Heart of Australia’s founder and head cardiologist, Dr Rolf Gomes, as well as Leisa Elder from our Foundation Partner, Arrow Energy, Dr Michael Rice from the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) and Heart of Australia patient, Sarah Valentine, whose evocative speech captured the hearts of the room. The evening ended in true celebratory style when guests took to the dance floor and danced the night away.