We have a heart
By LEE McDOUGALL
NOEL Goodworth knows all too well what it feels like to have your life placed in limbo.
Four years ago, the otherwise fit and healthy Coffs Harbour resident suffered a heart attack.
As a result, Mr Goodworth was sent to Sydney for an angiogram, which found that 95 per cent of one of his heart's arteries was blocked, requiring a stent to be put in place.
Unfortunately, a bed was not immediately available, so he was sent home to Coffs Harbour to wait for six weeks before travelling back to Sydney for the required surgery.
"It was horrible," Mr Goodworth said yesterday.
"For people to be put through that situation is, you would think in this day and age, unbelieveable."
However, the emotional trauma that Mr Goodworth ? and hundreds of Coffs Coast heart patients just like him ? have endured became a thing of the past yesterday with the official opening of the new $3.5 million Coronary Angiography Unit at Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
NSW Health Minister John Hatzistergos flew into the city yesterday to officiate at the opening, stating the new unit was 'a big boost' to health services on the North Coast.
"It will greatly benefit patients with serious conditions such as heart disease, angina and other acute coronary syndromes, who previously had to travel to the Gold Coast or Sydney," Mr Hatzistergos said.
COFFS Harbour's only cardiologist, Dr Jon Waites, said the new unit would hopefully attract additional cardiologists to the city.
Dr Waites is the only cardiologist between Port Macquarie and Lismore and sees up to 120 patients a day.
He said he could now perform between 10 to 12 procedures a week with the new unit, but was already booked up to Christmas.
"We are trying to recruit two cardiologists at the moment," Dr Waites said.
"We have been trying to recruit additional cardiologists for 10 years, and this unit will certainly help the recruitment process.
"With three cardiologists, we could be performing up to 30 procedures a week, and there is certainly the patient load already."
The new unit is considered a 'gold standard' diagnostic unit to test for coronary artery disease and provides the cardiologist with a definitive answer on the most appropriate treatment option for the patient, be that bypass, stents or medical management.
As the new unit grows and evolves, the aim is for it to be providing intervention measures, and not just diagnostic procedures, within the next 12 months.