Medical specialist program, Heart of Australia, in partnership with the Queensland Government, will deliver a custom-built B-double mobile clinic with the capacity to provide medical imaging including X-ray and CT scanning.
The new expanded services, according to Heart of Australia, will provide significant advancements in terms of access to health screening and diagnostic services for individuals and families throughout rural and remote communities.
Assistant State Development Minister and Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, announced on 28 April 2020 that Heart of Australia had been awarded the contract to design, build and operate the mobile health service.
“This mobile screening service will be taking important testing to quarry workers and miners where they live and work to support the early detection and prevention of mine dust lung diseases like black lung and silicosis," said Gilbert.
“The 25-metre two-trailer truck is projected to clock about 50,000 kilometres annually, delivering chest X-rays and respiratory checks.
“The exact routes and schedule are being planned to work with existing services, but will likely include the coal fields across the Bowen and Surat Basins, the North West Minerals Province, and the opal and gem fields in the west and south-west of the state.
”The mobile service will complement existing health facilities already available to current and former workers across the state," she said.
Heart of Australia has several years of experience providing specialist medical service clinics to rural and remote communities across Queensland via custom-designed trucks.
Dr Rolf Gomes, Heart of Australia founder and cardiologist, said there was a clear need for locally accessible medical imaging services in rural and regional communities, and that the new mobile clinic will take digital imaging staff and the state-of-the-art equipment they require to the communities where they are needed.
“Ultimately in medicine, you can only treat the problems you can find, and access to medical imaging plays a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients," said Dr Gomes.
"As a simple example if you have a cough which just won’t go away, then you may need a CT scan of your chest because if you do happen to have a cancer, you want to know about it when it’s the size of a pea, not a tennis ball," he said.
Providing rural patients with access to locally delivered medical imaging services, according to Dr Gomes, will make an enormous difference and save lives.
Dr Gomes said the truck would be built and fitted out in Queensland, and operated by a multidisciplinary team.
"When you step onboard the new mobile clinic you will find a range of sophisticated equipment similar to what you would find in a respiratory practice in the city,” he said.
“There will be the capacity to conduct full health assessments for current and former mine workers, including chest X-ray screenings, as well as follow-up investigations like high-resolution computed tomography and complex lung function testing where required.
“Depending on what service is needed in each region, staff required to operate the service could include doctors, nurses, radiographers, and of course a truck driver.”
Dr Gomes is also thrilled to be working in partnership with the Queensland Government.
"The expansion to mobile medical imaging, especially mobile CT scans is a step-change evolution in the services we currently deliver," he said. "It acknowledges the vital role medical imaging plays in the practice of modern medicine and brings us closer to equitable access to healthcare for all Australians regardless of postcode.”
Heart of Australia is reported to deliver monthly specialist medical investigation and treatment clinics to regional, rural and remote area communities across Queensland, including Dalby, Goondiwindi, Stanthorpe, St George, Charleville, Roma, Emerald, Barcaldine, Longreach, Hughenden, Charters Towers, Moranbah, Cloncurry, Blackall and Quilpie.
Also, the program's customised road trains have travelled more than 150,000 kilometres on the road covering an area of more than 450,000-square-kilometres.
In August 2018, Heart of Australia launched its second mobile clinic, Heart 2.
(Image: Heart of Australia founder and cardiologist, Dr Rolf Gomes.)