For Horsham resident Allitt Robinson, a trip to Ballarat Base Hospital to investigate the blood vessels and arteries in his heart isn’t such an overwhelming prospect.
Although it’s a two and a half hour trip each way, he said he was thankful that angiography technology is a little closer to home than it used to be.
“It’s a lot easier to get here and lot better than Melbourne, I can tell you that,” Mr Robinson said.
“I had an angiogram this morning, where they went up and had a look to see if there was anything wrong with my heart.
“These are things we can’t do in Horsham, I’ll be able to just go home tomorrow.”
Ballarat Health Services’ second cardiac catheterisation laboratory was launched yesterday by Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy.
The $10 million project caters for increasing cardiac demand in the region, extending the number of heart procedures undertaken such as stenting, angiography and inserting pacemakers.
According to a Heart Foundation report, Ballarat has the highest incidence of cardiovascular disease in the state, at 32.3 per cent of the population. It is the second highest rate in Australia.
Cardiologist Associate Professor Ernesto Oqueli said the hospital would also increase their service capacity from February 2018, with the implementation of a 24-hour, seven days a week acute service for people suffering heart attacks.
“It’s a boost to our ability to provide world-class cardiac treatment for the population of our region,” he said.
”This will increase our cardiac procedure capacity, from our current 20-30 cardiac procedures per week, to up to 50 cardiac procedures per week.
“Having these facilities has given our population the opportunity to be treated closer to home, family and friends, which is not a disadvantage.”
The significantly increased patient capacity due to the dedicated cardiac cath lab will allow for additional recovery space for patients.
Minister Hennessy said in some instances, regional Victorians have worse health outcomes, partly because of the inconvenience of being treated in Melbourne.
“Getting access to things like stents and good interventions can give people that second chance at life,” she said. “That’s one of the most important opportunities that the new cath lab presents.”
“Being able to be visited and not have the tyranny of distance keeping you away from your family… It’s about being embedded in and supported by your community.”
Ballarat Health Services CEO Dale Fraser said the hospital would have to expand further to meet the emergency, maternity and surgical demand of Ballarat’s increasing population.