THUMBS UP: Aunty Roberta Johnson gives the thumbs up to the ICOP service.
THUMBS UP: Aunty Roberta Johnson gives the thumbs up to the ICOP service. Simon Young

Cardiac program has heaps of ticker

IT'S mid-morning on a Monday at Bundaberg's IWC Health and Wellbeing Centre and the medical waiting room is abuzz with patients.

Along one of the corridors of consulting rooms on this day, a ground-breaking team has taken over four areas to deliver a specialist service that is tackling one of the biggest killers in our communities - cardiovascular disease.

IWC plays regular host to the Indigenous Cardiac Outreach Program, which travels the state delivering services that otherwise would not be accessed by many in our region.

ICOP operates over 30 sites, covering more than half of Queensland's area mass, and is based at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane.

For IWC, the service - which comes to Bundaberg at least three times a year - is a major boon.

"This is an important service, and one which will help to save many lives among one of the most disadvantaged and at-risk sectors of our community,” IWC general manager Wayne Mulvany said.

"More than 85% of IWC patients have one or more chronic diseases and complex conditions and many have up to four or more,” Mr Mulvany said.

"The greatest disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous health outcomes is seen in rates of coronary heart disease, where it is double the rate of non-indigenous Australians,” he said.

"This figure is backed by research which indicates that coronary heart disease is responsible for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths than any other single cause.”

IWC brings patients to the service from the remote and rural areas it services, including the North Burnett.

The ease of access to such a key specialist service is appreciated by IWC clients.

It also provides indigenous health practitioners to support the ICOPs team.

The IWC team members arrange bookings, transport for clients who need it, set up the equipment and give support, providing electrocardiogram (ECG) tests as required.

Everything about the service is culturally responsive.

Today, Arthur McGregor has one of the 20 appointments.

Of Kulali heritage, he moved to Bundaberg from Cherbourg about a year ago. He is a regular client of IWC services.

"It's pretty good,” he says of the ICOP service.

"I'll keep on using it.”

The ICOP service is currently the subject of PhD research at the Queensland University of Technology.

"It emphasises community engagement, capacity-building and empowerment, in contrast to a strictly clinical model of care,” an ICOP spokesman said.