- A Queensland cardiologist has taken his practice on the road to deliver specialist heart care services to rural and regional areas, working from a converted semitrailer.
- A mental health group has raised concerns about a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists in Tasmania, which has the second highest suicide rate in the country.
- Experts are reminding parents that melanoma does not discriminate, after a Perth two years old, Frankie Prebble’s needed surgery to remove a tumour.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 13th October 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
A Queensland cardiologist has taken his practice on the road to deliver specialist heart care services to rural and regional areas, working from a converted semitrailer
Dr Rolf Gomes spent more than $1 million developing the mobile medical clinic, which he dubbed Heart of Australia.
An Australian first, the clinic was a custom-built, 25-metre long semitrailer fully equipped with specialist diagnostic equipment.
“The idea came to me over five years ago when I was practicing out in some of the regional areas as a junior doctor and registrar,” Dr Gomes said.
“I experienced at that time how difficult it was for patients out in these areas to access the services that patients in the city take for granted.”
The truck was fitted out to perform stress testing, cardiac ultrasound, Holter monitoring and a whole suite of other non-invasive cardiac and respiratory tests.
“What that allows us to do, in a practical sense, is to close that loop from symptom to diagnosis to treatment, potentially all within 24 hours,” Dr Gomes said.
The semitrailer will be staffed by a rotating team of cardiologists and respiratory specialists.
Cardiac sonographer Stefanie Purcell came on board to help treat patients in Dalby, in south-west Queensland.
Heart disease was the leading cause of death in Australia, with people who lived in rural or remote areas facing significantly higher risks.
The Heart of Australia team is planning on travelling between 70,000 and 80,000 kilometres a year.
A mental health group has raised concerns about a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists in Tasmania, which has the second highest suicide rate in the country.
Gail Wilson said she had struggled for years to find adequate support for herself and her daughter, who has a mental illness.
Ms Wilson believed the available services were not sufficient.
“I found myself in a lot of different places, and they had really nice posters around the wall saying ‘help’; there was so much help available, but that help never really came,” she said.
Ms Wilson feared her daughter would become a statistic.
“I know that suicide is very high in Tassie and I think I know why, and I don’t want my daughter to be one of those statistics,” she said.
Ms Wilson said emergency services were the frontline for support.
“For my daughter it’s definitely police, ambulance and emergency centre staff… there is no other support,” she said.
Groups like Mental Health Carers Tas looked to support people in their time of need.
CEO Wendy Groot reflected on how services had changed over time.
She said there was a shortage of specialists, and that was amplified in regional areas.
“Yes there is a shortage of psychiatrists in Tasmania, particularly on the North-West Coast, to the last of my knowledge there isn’t actually a resident psychiatrist on the North-West coast,” she said.
Ms Groot said Tasmania faced larger challenges than the rest of the country.
The State Government was reviewing the delivery of mental health services.
Experts are reminding parents that melanoma does not discriminate, after a Perth toddler needed surgery to remove a tumour.
At just two years old, Frankie Prebble’s skin had seen barely any sun when she was diagnosed with the disease.
Her parents noticed a small pink spot on her arm, which grew and later began to bleed.
Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world, but they are not all the result of sun exposure.
Doctor Mark Lee operated on Frankie and said in this extremely rare case, the sun was unlikely to be the reason for the tumour.
“When you’ve got a little baby like Frankie who’s so young and had very little sun exposure, then there are obviously a lot of other factors at play here [like] genetics [and] the tumour biology,” Dr Lee said.
“Melanoma can be a very different disease in different people.”
Frankie’s case is one in 5 million.
And while Frankie has a 99.9 per cent chance of being cured of melanoma, she will need to be vigilant for the rest of her life.
Melanoma researcher Professor Meenhard Herlyn, who is based in the United States and is in Perth for the second International Melanoma Conference, said Australia was leading the way in treatment.
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