Specialists from all over the country will unite on board a new mobile medical clinic to provide outback Queenslanders with the healthcare they need, as Heart of Australia launches its second truck.
The new 34-wheel B-Double which features extra consultation rooms for a range of specialist services, including gynaecology, neurology and endocrinology, was built in Brisbane, allowing the service to expand its reach to 16 towns from mid-August.
The mobile clinic is the second truck for Heart of Australia which began in 2014 taking heart specialists to the bush in a custom built 18-wheeler clinic.
Brisbane cardiologist, Dr Rolf Gomes, mortgaged his home to build the first truck after being confronted by the health inequality facing Australians living in remote areas.
“We live in a first-world country in Australia, and yet people are dying of preventable illnesses, not because we lack treatments or medical solutions, but because the people living outside major cities lack access to medical specialists that we in the city often take for granted,” Dr Gomes said.
“Taking cardiologists to regional and remote towns has helped save more than 250 lives but we know people’s health needs extend far beyond heart conditions which is why this second truck is so important.”
The new truck will see gynaecologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, geriatric medicine specialists and endocrinologists joining cardiologists on the 8000 kilometre a month round trip across rural and remote Queensland.
“The goal is to be able to deliver not only the specialists, but also state-of-the-art medical equipment needed to provide quality care. We say it’s about bringing Wickham Terrace to the bush – if you can find the equipment in my Brisbane clinic, you’ll find it on the truck,” Dr Gomes said.
A second truck also means doctors can spend more time treating patients and Heart of Australia can expand the service to another three towns on top of the 13 it already visits between Stanthorpe in the south and Charters Towers in the north.
“With just one truck, we were spending about half our time treating patients and the other half commuting,” Dr Gomes explained.
“Now we’ll spend 80 per cent of our time with outback Queenslanders and just 20 per cent driving, meaning the waitlist for people needing healthcare will reduce dramatically.”
A Queensland family donated $1 million to help build the new truck, along with support from corporate sponsors and private donations.
The bulk of the funding required to operate the program and deliver these essential medical services to the people of rural and regional Queensland is provided by corporate sponsors and private donations.
Foundation partner Arrow Energy’s Vice President External Relations and Tenure Management Leisa Elder said the expansion was great news.
“Heart of Australia has proved to be a leap forward in bringing medical care to people outside the major cities – the people in our areas of operations,” Ms Elder said.
“It is addressing an imbalance experienced by people in the bush. We were pleased to help Heart of Australia get off the ground in 2014, we’ve been proud of what it’s achieved to date and we’re excited about how this new rig will change lives in the Surat and Bowen basins.”
Dr Gomes said Heart of Australia’s mission is to have mobile clinics on country roads right across the nation.
“Every Australian deserves access to quality healthcare, regardless of where they live.”