Graduate Diplomas in Cardiac Ultrasound

HOME is where the heart is for two local nurses-turned-echocardiographers.

After completing their Bachelor of Nursing degrees two years ago, Kirsten Newman and Jessica Goodman decided to take their medical education one step further and complete a Graduate Diploma in Cardiac Ultrasound, a two-year course run through the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

The girls received their qualifications recently, essentially “doubling the staff levels” at their workplace, Mildura Cardiology.

Chief echocardiographer Lisa Zweck said the course undertaken by Ms Newman and Ms Goodman is “notorious for having students drop out or fail due to the high level of skills involved”.

“Not only is it very academically difficult requiring physics, anatomy, physiology, and mathematical equations, but the physical skills required to perform the procedure is extremely difficult,” Ms Zweck said.

“This has been an outstanding achievement for the girls and now has basically doubled our staff levels,

“They are local girls and it is wonderful that they have retrained in such a specialised area to help service our rural community.”

Ms Goodman and Ms Newman said while their training was “intense,” they were now looking forward to embarking on their new career.

“I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare, starting with working as a personal carer, then nursing and leading in to echocardiography seemed like a very natural progression for me,” Ms Goodman said.

“I really think you can have a rewarding and successful career right here in Mildura, our workplace has been so supportive.”

The road to echocardiology looked very different for Ms Newman, who decided to take a turn to the medical profession after hairdressing for seven years.

“I was a qualified hairdresser when I started studying nursing … I never thought I’d do a post grad, let alone a degree,” she said.

“I did it because I just thought it was amazing, I had almost finished my nursing degree and thought I’d give it a go — and I’m so glad I did.”

Both girls agree that having access to “hands on learning” through their workplace was key to their success.

“You’re actually not allowed to do the course with out the hands on training, so we were really lucky to have Mildura Cardiology take us on and support us though that,” Ms Goodman said.

“The wonderful thing about echocardiology is that it’s continually changing and improving – you’re learning new things all the time… it’s constantly evolving, and that’s a very exciting thing to be a part of.”

National Honour for doc

Dr Raymond Cowling was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours.

 

FOR more than 30 years, Dr Raymond Cowling has been travelling back and forward from Melbourne to Mildura to offer his services to a regional community he has grown to love.

And this week, the 72-year-old senior pacemaker physiologist was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia as part of the Queen’s Birthday honours.

“I was really pleased, my sister burst into tears when I told her and my partner gave me a huge hug,” he said.

Dr Cowling, the visiting affiliate at Mildura Cardiology, was awarded for his service to community health. While he has worked for many years as a senior pacemaker physiologist and formerly as a senior pacemaker technologist, he has also spent more than 30 years working with people in the recovery phase after an attempt at suicide.

“I thought I would like to help people and I have been able to provide support for those people,” he said.

“I help out as often as they need and it’s good for them.”

The travelling doc has had an extraordinary life.

He first set out to have a career in electronics but it was near the end of his degree that he discovered his passion for medicine.

“To qualify I had to do a year in the industry, so I did it at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, that was my window into medicine,” he said.

“I was fascinated by research and aspects of the heart.

“I married electronics and medical knowledge together and obtained by first job at Medtronic in Minneapolis in the late 1960s, early 1970s.”

It was there that Dr Cowling witnessed the “evolutionary” change from a pacemaker being an external device to something that was placed inside a patient.

“I just happened to be the right person, at the right place and at the right time,” he said.

Dr Cowling returned to Australia in 1978 and was employed at Telectronics and St Vincent’s Hospital.

Almost a decade later, Dr Cowling began visiting Mildura.

“It was 32 years ago that I joined Dr Alan Soward and Dr Kevin Chambers to start offering pacemaker implantations in Mildura,” Dr Cowling said.

“Eight years ago I retired from all of the Melbourne hospitals but still visit Mildura, averaging 102 visits a year.

“I just love the people and the environment and serving a community in need.”

With frequent flights to Mildura each week, Dr Cowling said the great relationship he had formed with Qantas airline had been an important aspect in being able to do his job.

“I remember when I was on the way to the airport and there was a crash on the freeway but at the time there was an emergency in Mildura, I called the airline and they held the plane for me,” he said.

“During my 32 years coming here, there has been four times that they have waited for me and have saved the lives of people needing help.

“It’s that family, community atmosphere that I like and what has kept me coming back.”

Dr Cowling said while he would like to retire in the near future, his patients don’t need to panic yet as he still has a few years up his sleeve.

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Heart Surgery Breakthrough

Mildura Cardiology’s Dr Matthew Brooks – has performed an Australian-first operation.

 

Mildura Cardiologist Dr Matthew Brooks (who is married to a Mildura girl) and Dr William Wilson have performed a procedure known as the ‘BASILICA technique’ at The Royal Melbourne Hospital – previously only performed in North America.

 

Photo and story courtesy of The Herald Sun:

 

A grandfather with a failing heart and no traditional option to help him has been saved in an Australian-first operation.

Roger Reinhardt, 88, was back on his feet a day after having a new valve placed inside a leaking valve he received during open heart surgery 12 years ago, but which was now threatening to cut off blood to his heart.

Mr Reinhardt’s surgeons at the Royal Melbourne Hospital hope the success of Friday’s operation will open the door to saving others who could not previously be saved with modern valve replacement techniques.

With palliative care seemingly the only option for Mr Reinhardt when his old heart valve failed a fortnight ago, the Bairnsdale grandfather of 11 was offered the chance to see if a new operation could save his life.

“I am privileged to be able to do this for them,” Mr Reinhardt said. “I had become very, very short of breath and it happened gradually over four or five weeks before it got to the stage I could hardly breathe at all.”

A technique called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) — where a catheter is used to push the valve into place inside the worn-out valve and take over its job — has become common in recent years to save patients in Mr Reinhardt’s condition.

But, like 3 per cent of such cases, Mr Reinhardt’s coronary artery is placed so close to the leaky valve that any attempt to replace it would push the device over the coronary opening and block blood supply to his heart.

Having investigated a new BASILICA technique being pioneered in the US to overcome the issue, Royal Melbourne Hospital cardiac surgeons Dr Matthew Brooks and Dr William Wilson gave Mr Reinhardt a new chance.

Passing an electrified wire through Mr Reinhardt’s femoral artery to his leaking valve, they cut a V-shaped gap in its side before passing a new valve along the same route and inserting it inside the old device.

Although the old valve blocked the coronary artery, its strategically placed gap allowed blood to keep flowing.

“He has been in hospital for weeks now and we haven’t been able to get him out so he would have been palliated,” Dr Brooks said.

“He became the first (for the surgery) because the timing was right: they have done a handful of cases overseas and his anatomy was ideal for this procedure.”