The Heart of Australia is a travelling cardiology clinic that travels 8,000km a month offering specialist heart services to people throughout outback Queensland.
Cardiovascular disease is a major killer in Australia, and people living in the country are 44 per cent more likely to die from a heart attack than city dwellers.
The brainchild of Brisbane-based cardiologist Dr Rolf Gomes, the 25-metre truck – known as the ‘Heart Bus’ – has all the specialist equipment you’d expect in a city practice and has seen about 3,000 patients through its doors since it started up in 2014.
Now there are plans for a second truck thanks to an anonymous donation of $1 million.
“Not every day does someone offer you a million dollars to build your dream,” Dr Gomes told the ABC. “I nearly fell off the back of my chair.”
More funding needed
The new truck will include consulting rooms for a gastroenterologist, urologist and endocrinologist, and a surgery for minor operations.
But with $1 million still needed to run the program every year, Dr Gomes is still looking for help.
The Queensland Government had donated $250,000 towards setting up the first bus, but a second application for funding was knocked back last year. Queensland Health says the current public system provides “better value for money”, but Dr Gomes says there are no similar services available.
“If there is a cheaper alternative I’d like to know what it is,” he said.
It’s a worthy cause – growing up in the country, I often remember friends and neighbours having to travel to the city for medical treatment because there were no specialists nearby.
If you are interested in supporting the Heart of Australia, you can make a donation here.