Dr Rolf Gomes’ ‘mobile cardio clinic’ featured in Australian Story last year, but its service was threatened when the Queensland govt rejected a request to partner with him.
Now ABC finds he has a new anonymous benefactor.
Dr Rolf Gomes is a cardiologist with a big heart. With country people dying at a rate far greater than their city cousins, Dr Gomes pioneered a mobile cardio clinic that is blazing a trail across the outback. Now, thanks to a mystery million-dollar benefactor, he’s thrown off the constraints of bureaucracy and is about to build another ‘Heart Bus’ to tackle more towns … and save more lives.
We know lots of people even in our town that have been helped by, as they call it, the ‘Heart Bus’.- Dr Desley Marshall, rural GP and Royal Flying Doctor Service board member
When Rolf was knocked back from the government, it was basically just a kick in the guts really. Rejection for some people is debilitating [but] for Rolf it has the opposite effect. – Kylie Gomes, wife
It’s funny, you never really know what’s around the corner … and like the phoenix we’ve risen from the ashes. – Dr Rolf Gomes
Australian Story first followed the story of Dr Rolf Gomes’ ‘Heart Bus’ in July last year as it travelled from town to town, meeting and treating outback patients who might otherwise have gone undiagnosed.
If you live in the bush and suffer from ‘the silent killer’ of heart disease, you are 44% more likely to die than you would if you lived in the city.
Dr Gomes, an engineer-turned-cardiologist, came up with the idea of a cardiac-clinic-on-wheels after witnessing the shortfalls of rural medicine as a young resident on a country rotation.
“You can’t look at a situation like that and say the way to address that is to maintain the status quo, because whatever already exists, clearly we need to be doing more,” Dr Gomes said.
As a child, he’d lost a young brother due to inadequate medical care back in his hometown of Calcutta, India, and the disparity between the life expectancies of first-world city and country cousins struck him as unfair and unnecessary.
As a cardiologist Dr Gomes had identified the problem. But it was as an engineer he sought to solve it, designing and overseeing the construction of a semi-trailer that could replicate his city clinic out west.
Rural patients embraced the ‘Heart Bus’ wholeheartedly and Dr Gomes had plans for expansion.
But his ‘vision to revolutionise’ rural medicine was threatened when the Queensland government rejected his request to partner with him to extend the service.
As Australian Story now discovers, rather than retreat Dr Gomes fought back and has recently attracted a generous benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous.
“Not every day does someone offer you a million dollars to build your dream,” he said.
Now Dr Gomes has surprising news to share about delivering wider medical specialities to a greater geographic region, benefiting more people with more diseases in more places.
Monday May 29, 8pm on ABC.