The drive for the hearts of rural Queenslanders

3 October 2014

Cardiologist Dr Rolf Gomes has always lived by a simple motto, “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”

It is this drive and determination that has led Dr Gomes to pioneer a new approach to how specialist medical services are delivered across rural, regional and remote Queensland.

The Heart of Australia, which was launched in Toowoomba on Friday, is the nation’s first mobile medical clinic.

It will provide specialist cardiac and respiratory services to people across rural and regional Queensland, where people are 44 per cent more likely to die from heart disease than their city counterparts

The mobile clinic is a custom-built, $1.5million, 25m-long semi-trailer with specialist diagnostic equipment and technology, staffed by a team of cardiologists and respiratory specialists on a rotating roster.

It will begin its first circuit of south-western Queensland on Saturday, starting at St George.

Dr Gomes said the initiative would be a “game changer for the health and wellbeing of people living in rural and remote communities”.

“For some people in these areas it can be a day’s drive or longer to see a specialist. Now the service will come to them,” he said.

“We are hoping this program and the Heart of Australia brand will move us towards a more sustainable approach to the provision of specialist health services.”

Sharing the journey has been Toowoomba-based Senator Barry O’Sullivan, who has traversed the sometimes rocky road of lobbying for State and Federal Government funds for the Heart of Australia project since taking his seat in parliament in February.

“From the first time Dr Gomes approached me with his concept I knew it could forever change medical service delivery for the bush. This truck really is a glimpse into what the future holds,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“I think Dr Gomes and myself have both been learning as we go about how to push for commitments from government.

“I was a new Senator and probably didn’t always follow the typical protocol, but we have got a great result in the end. Launching the Heart of Australia mobile clinic is among the most fulfilling moments of my short political life.”


Heart of Australia Factbox:

  • The clinic module is towed by a Kenworth prime mover and has two consulting rooms, new ultrasound and cardiac stress testing equipment, and telemedicine capabilities.
  • It will travel in fortnightly rotations throughout rural Queensland, beginning on Saturday (October 4).
  • The first circuit will include Dalby, Roma, Charleville, St George and Goondiwindi.
  • Heart of Australia is delivered in partnership with Arrow Energy and is supported by Medihearts, Bayer Australia, St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Kenworth, IOR Petroleum, Brown and Hurley, Telstra, GT Insurance and Skytrans