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The tyranny of distance is a phrase often used to describe Australia—a large geographical expanse with striking landscapes and scattered populations. But looking beyond the romantic undertones lies a grim reality. In fact in Australia if you live outside our major cities, in some instances you are almost twice as likely to die of heart disease. No doubt, higher indigenous populations, lower socioeconomic demographics and cultural perceptions of health contribute to these statistics, however the difference in health outcomes is also partly attributed to the difficulty in accessing services.
Cardiologist and Founder of Heart of Australia Dr Rolf Gomes (figure 1) has always believed that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. As a junior doctor, he experienced the challenges of rural and regional medicine early in his medical career. The experience stayed with him, and he resolved to find a better way.
The fact is that change requires action, and I was determined to do something to make sure that while the research continued, people weren’t dying in the meantime.
As a former electrical engineer, Rolf’s medical and engineering skills converged, and the dream of a mobile medical clinic capable of delivering specialist medical services to people in rural and regional Australia was born.
In 2014 Heart of Australia’s first heart truck, HEART1, was launched. The service initially offered included cardiology and non-invasive cardiac and respiratory testing to five rural Queensland towns.
Contributors RG is responsible for planning, design, implementation and reporting of the work described in the article.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Author note Heart of Australia was founded by RG to address the health inequity faced by people living in rural and regional Australia, specifically as it relates to accessing specialist medical services.
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