Hello, HEART 5
As a proud sponsor, the NTI team recently visited Heart of Australia's impressive 26-metre HEART 5 mobile medical clinic in Biloela, where it sits parked amongst the dirt, a busy intersection, and a local KFC.
Due to the vast and expansive nature of our country, it can be a challenge for rural communities to experience things that we city folk take for granted.
Take medical procedures for example; a basic CT scan could see patients from rural areas travel hours. However, mobile medical facilities like the recently deployed HEART 5 truck – which travels the country providing CT scans – can provide important medical imaging to the regions, reducing the hours of travel to minutes.
The latest wonder vehicle from Brisbane-based medical group Heart of Australia was recently revealed at an event in Brisbane.
HEART 5, a brand-new DAF XF towing a high-tech A-B trailer built by specialist engineering firm Varley Group, boasts a first-of-its-kind battery-powered CT scanner, making this mobile medical imaging clinic an ideal solution to providing increased accessibility to lung checks to current and former mine and quarry workers in rural and remote Queensland.
“What you are seeing is the world’s first battery-operated CT scanner,” Heart of Australia founder, Dr. Rolf Gomes, announced at its reveal.
“And what that means is we don’t have to be parked somewhere we can plug it in. We don’t have to go to a hospital. It can literally go somewhere and park anywhere, whether that be in a mine site or a cane field, and you can walk up those stairs and get a CT scan done.”
NTI recently visited the impressive 26-metre HEART 5 mobile medical clinic in Biloela, where it sits parked amongst the dirt, a busy intersection, and a local KFC.
The warm outback Queensland sun doesn’t stop Heart of Australia’s Head of Operations and Business Development, Ewan Wylie, and his team as they make Biloela home for the next week, expecting approximately 20 patients through the clinics’ doors daily.
“Our free lung checks help to screen for mine dust lung diseases like black lung, silicosis, emphysema, and occupational lung cancers,” Wylie explains.
“It’s really important to identify these as early as possible so we can treat and manage those patients and improve and maximise the quality of life of those affected.”
For Wylie, a respiratory scientist for many years, this is a dream job and the potential for HEART 5 is huge.
“Yeah, for sure, HEART 5 is the most advanced respiratory screening clinic in the world. No doubt about it. Having a CT machine and laboratory lung function testing and the experienced physicians to deliver these services means that we have the most outstanding program to deliver to retired miners in outback Queensland,” he says.
Heart of Australia is confident that the breakthrough mobile CT technology developed for the HEART 5 clinic will see a positive ripple-on effect on the other mobile clinics in their arsenal.
“CT’s are essential in diagnosing disease, and by being able to deliver cardiac CT’s, contrast CT’s and all general CT radiology to rural and remote Australia, we’re going to improve and extend the quality of lives of those living in our regions,” Wylie says. “We are only scratching the surface.”
With a Heart of Australia free lung check, retired miners are provided with an onboard chest X-ray read by B reader radiologists, spirometry testing, an examination by an experienced physician, and reviews by experienced occupational doctors.
HEART 5 is also able to deliver laboratory lung function testing, HRCT’s, and respiratory specialist reviews to diagnose workers affected by mine dust lung disease.
“The retired miners that we screen have contributed so much to this country,” Wylie says.
“They've delivered for their families, they’ve built homes, they’ve contributed so much to the towns that we visit, and their health is really important, they shouldn’t have their health compromised because they’ve worked in a mine for 30 years, 40 years.
“Heart of Australia is supporting Queensland’s mining communities by delivering free lung checks to retired miners where they live.”
Heart of Australia recently secured $17.2 million in funding from the Federal Government, a commitment it believes will allow the operation to continue its work in regional communities for the next four years.
Dr. Gomes expresses his delight to see the commitment in the recent 2022-2023 Federal Budget.
“Bringing medical services to regional and remote communities breaks down the barriers of distance, meaning more Queenslanders can get the health care they need,” he says.
“Having the continued support from the Federal Government can give Queenslanders living in rural and remote areas the confidence we will continue to be there for them, no matter what,” he adds.
HEART 5 is the latest addition to a fleet that also includes four other custom-designed clinic-on-wheels, two driven by Kenworth K200’s, one by a DAF XF 530 prime mover and the third an Isuzu FSD260.
Since 2014, Heart of Australia’s medical specialists have seen more than 12,000 patients and travelled more than 500,000 kilometres, servicing towns from Stanthorpe to Weipa.
On top of project partners, the Queensland Government through Resources Safety and Health Queensland, Philips and I-MED, HEART 5 also has the support of Foundation Partner Arrow Energy, as well as Anglo American, IOR, PACCAR Australia, Toyota, QML, St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Telstra, Bayer, Bridgestone, Rex Airlines, Brown & Hurley, Janssen, Frasers, Abbot, Medtronic, and NTI.