Regional facilities 27 April 2023

Caring for hearts in Goulburn Valley

Like many rural and regional areas, Goulburn Valley is growing. More people are moving for work, as well as for the sense of community and regional lifestyle.

Dr Jennifer Coller is the Clinical Director of Cardiology at Goulburn Valley Health’s Shepparton Hospital. She too moved to the area for the way of life, taking up her role after completing placements at metropolitan and regional hospitals.

'There is a feeling of community,' explains Dr Coller of why she chose Goulburn Valley. She particularly enjoys the relationships she has built with patients and peers alike. 'It's an easy place to make connections.'

Heart disease is the single leading cause of death for Australians. Access to heart health services closer to home is vital in keeping regional communities healthy.

The Victorian Government has funded replacement cardiology equipment at Shepparton Hospital. This means Dr Coller can now diagnose and treat patients onsite.

Early intervention gets to the heart of the matter

Like many diseases, early intervention makes a difference when it comes to heart health.

Dr Coller recalls treating a patient who was experiencing increased breathlessness. Having the latest equipment available, Dr Coller was able to diagnose them with a leaky valve. To find out if it was severe enough to cause the patient to be out of breath, a closer look at their heart was needed.

Close up photo of Dr Coller, Clinical Director of Cardiology, at Goulburn Valley Health’s Shepparton Hospital. The doctor is pictured smiling at the camera with a lush garden in the background.

‘Being able to do a trans-oesophageal echocardiogram (echo) on-site at Goulburn Valley Health reduces the risk of the patient becoming more unwell and needing an urgent hospital admission.'

Dr Coller, Clinical Director of Cardiology, Goulburn Valley Health’s Shepparton Hospital

The Victorian Government provided $310,000 through the 2020-21 Medical Equipment Replacement Program. This funded a replacement trans-oesophageal echocardiogram probe.

A trans-oesophageal echocardiogram – also called an ‘echo’ – is a procedure to look at your heart chambers and valves. It involves an ultrasound scanner attached to a flexible telescope being placed down your oesophagus.

The echo was part of the replacement medical equipment provided by the fund used on-site at Goulburn Valley Health to confirm the patient's leaky valve was severe. A referral for further tests and treatment in Melbourne could then be organised straight away.

Having the echo available onsite greatly reduced diagnosis and referral time. ‘Being able to do a trans-oesophageal echocardiogram on-site reduces the risk of the patient becoming more unwell and needing an urgent hospital admission,’ adds Dr Coller.

Healthcare worker using trans-oesophageal echocardiogram at GVH shepparton

The replacement medical equipment means patients can have a trans-oesophageal echocardiogram – a procedure that looks closely at heart chambers and valves – on-site at Goulburn Valley Health’s Shepparton Hospital.

Supporting regional public healthcare

Dr Coller says vital new equipment 'sends the message that regional areas are a priority'.

She says it also helps reverse outdated ideas about regional public health. That 'for anything more complicated', people need to travel to metropolitan health services. Ongoing investment means regional residents can access world-class healthcare, closer to home.

And in more good news for Goulburn Valley patients, Dr Coller says that being able to perform specialised procedures on site will help attract more medical specialists to the area.

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Last updated: 27 April 2023