CENTRAL Queensland residents with heart conditions no longer have to travel kilometres upon kilometres to Brisbane thanks to Dr Garcia and the cardiac team at the Mater Hospital.
This week, the team undertook their first permanent pacemaker insertion surgeries, completing five in just the first week.
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The Mater Rockhampton Cardiac Catheterisation and Angiography Laboratory, which is open to public and private patients, has also just treated its 100th patient since the state-of-the-art facility was opened in April.
Mater Rockhampton executive officer Sue Thurbon is incredibly proud that patients are able to access the specialised cardiac services and procedures in Rockhampton, alleviating the need to travel to major centres.
Pacemaker and Defibrillator. Allan Reinikka ROK161118acardiol
“The days of patients having to travel significant distances to access cardiac catheter treatment are long gone,” she said.
Cardiac Catheter and Geography Laboratory nurse unit manager Alexander Lendvay is impressed with the facility and said it was a real milestone for the local community.
“To be able to perform one hundred coronary angiographies right here in Rockhampton is a major step forward for healthcare in our region,” Mr Lendvay said.
“I am certain the community will take great comfort in the knowledge that they can receive highly specialised peripheral vascular treatment with angiography and intervention capabilities performed by cardiac specialists here in Rockhampton at the Mater Hospital.”
Cardiologist Dr Debora Garcia. Allan Reinikka ROK161118acardiol
Cardiologist Dr Debora Garcia, whose practice is located at the Mater Rockhampton, attributes the successful operation of the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory at the hospital to a “team effort”.
“I think it is extraordinarily exciting to be able to offer the whole region of CQ that has never had anything like this before,” she said.
She said unfortunately “we are in a place in the world where there is a lot of patients that do have cardiovascular issues”.
For these patients to be able to have angiograms in a timely fashion and with procedures such as pacemakers here will “save lives”.
“It is done locally the patients don’t meet new doctors, there is no fragmentation of care,” she said.
One of those five patients who underwent pacemaker surgery this week was a 95-year-old man who is a carer for his wife who has dementia and her incapacitated brother, so he was unable to leave Rockhampton.
“I have been here 12 years and every patient has a story… it does break your heart,” Dr Garcia said.
“They say, ‘I won’t go to Brisbane, it is too expensive, I don’t have anyone to take me, I will get lost…’.
“Those are the ones that can have access now”.
For many patients it was a life-or-death situation, she said.
“The patients are very happy, they have their whole family here supporting them through the surgery,” she said.
And this is only the beginning. Dr Garcia said now they have completed the 100 angiograms, it will allow them to start doing more procedures including stent surgeries by early next year.
There are about 800 patients with cardiovascular issues that travelled to Brisbane this year.