Dick Martin (left) had to travel to Sydney and Newcastle for heart operations but agrees with his cardiologist, Dr Jon Waites (
Dick Martin (left) had to travel to Sydney and Newcastle for heart operations but agrees with his cardiologist, Dr Jon Waites (

Dick enjoyed the ride of his life in a stretch

By David Moase

In his 83 years, Dick Martin has had many adventures but last year he enjoyed something that topped the lot ? a 450-kilometre journey in the back of a stretch limousine.

Mr Martin is no rock star and the World War II veteran stunned his wife, Grace, when the fancy hire car pulled up outside their Arrawarra home.

It wasn't a case of him winning the lottery or spending some of his savings ? Mr Martin was being sent home after a heart operation in Newcastle.

Just days earlier he had started having chest pains and was flown by air ambulance to Williamtown airport before having a pacemaker installed at a private hospital. He was then sent home in the stretch limousine.

Mr Martin still shakes his head at the expense and the unnecessary travel.

"If there were the facilities in Coffs Harbour it all could have been done here," he said.

"Grace didn't know where I was until I pulled up in the car.

"Later, they accidentally sent me the bill for the air ambulance ? it was $3400. There were two patients in the plane so it must have cost $6000-7000 just to fly to Newcastle.

"You can fly around the world for that amount."

Mr Martin is one of the people cardiologist Dr Jon Waites says would benefit from a coronary angiography laboratory in Coffs Harbour.

Dr Waites says the expense and inconvenience of flying patients to Sydney is another reason for having improved heart facilities in Coffs Harbour.

The state of the Pacific Highway adds to the problems of travel because Dr Waites doesn't like his patients driving to Sydney.

"I had a couple of patients who were driving down the highway and were involved in an accident, so now I say, if you're sick enough for an angiogram, you're sick enough to fly."



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