Once a month, the Heart Truck makes it way to the rural town of Stanthorpe in Southern Queensland to deliver a suite of specialist healthcare services, including cardiology and endocrinology.
For patients like 72-year-old James Massey – who require ongoing care with multiple specialists – the improved access to services through Heart of Australia has not gone unnoticed.
“The services are absolutely fabulous. Country people are very friendly and engaging, and so are the Heart of Australia people. I’ve travelled all over Queensland as a stock and station agent, but I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
James is a well-known figure in his community. His long-standing work with the Rural Fire Brigade has led him to being awarded with an Order of Australia Medal, as well as an award from Volunteering Queensland for his 50 years of service.
James first began visits to the Heart Truck to see endocrinologist Dr Tom Dover, on the advice of his GP, to help him manage his diabetes. Later on, after experiencing a bout of chest pain, it was recommended that he also go and see a cardiologist. While he was originally referred to visit a specialist on the Gold Coast, once Dr Dover received results of his alarmingly high coronary calcium score during one of their regular appointments, he was swiftly booked in for a stress echocardiogram and a consultation with Heart of Australia cardiologist Professor Kostner on the Heart Truck the very next day.
Reflecting on his experience prior to seeing Heart of Australia, James recalls the challenges he previously faced when seeking out specialist healthcare.
“Before this I would do a 7-hour round trip to the Gold Coast to see a specialist. Most of the time I had to go the night before and then come home again the next day, sometimes even staying two nights,” James said.
He emphasised how a service like Heart of Australia, bringing top-quality specialists out to the regions, is saving people like himself precious time spent away from jobs, families, and responsibilities.
“People are extremely lucky that they can access these services in their hometown now. I think that’s the most wonderful thing – you get the best there is coming to you in your own community.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting who I met [at Heart of Australia] and have been extremely well looked after.”
Since his first visit to the Heart Truck James has continued to see the team regularly, and even travelled to Brisbane in November 2023 to be the patient speaker at Heart of Australia’s annual Gala evening. He remains an active member in his community and with the Rural Fire Brigade.