Heartbeat Victoria volunteers supporting GV Health for over 30 years

For over three decades, a group of local volunteers has been the heart of Goulburn Valley Health’s mission to improve the health of community members.

Heartbeat Victoria Goulburn Valley volunteers offer peer support for GV Health patients recovering from a heart event, offering assistance to the patient and their family.

“We offer peer support for people recently diagnosed with a heart condition as this can be quite overwhelming, which impacts their recovery time and the decisions they make,” Heartbeat Victoria GV volunteer secretary Robyn Fennell said. The volunteers, who have previously experienced a heart event themselves, run several exciting activities for cardiac patients to uplift their physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

“We offer monthly dinners followed by an education session run by a heart health speaker, monthly coffee and walking groups, telephone support services and home visits,” Ms Fennell said. “Our peer support group is so valuable because we connect with people with similar cardiac health problems, and we can share our personal experiences with others. We have things in common, and we are people they can trust.”

GV Health clinical director of cardiology Dr Jennifer Coller said the group assisted patients in various ways.

“After a cardiac event, a lot of people do have issues with anxiety or low mood, so to have that support from other people that have gone through the same issues before is a compelling experience,” Dr Coller said.

The volunteer group members are known not only for their support and assistance for cardiac patients at the hospital but also for their philanthropic efforts. Since 1990, Heartbeat’s GV branch has raised $297,322 towards cardiac and emergency service equipment for GV Health. Recently, it made a $13,800 contribution towards much-needed ambulatory blood pressure monitors for the hospital. The monitor allows testing to be done at fixed intervals throughout a 24-hour period, unlike previous monitors that capture a one-off measurement.

“The machine is the gold standard for assessing what blood pressure control is like, and it’s helpful because it gives a longer-term measurement,” Dr Coller said. “This is particularly valuable for people whose blood pressure goes up and down a lot, so it gives us an accurate indication of the appropriate treatment.”

Dr Coller said the donations made by the volunteer group through its fundraising events were a testament to its ability to work collaboratively with the cardiology team to develop a holistic service. “It’s exciting to be developing a wrap-around service where we offer the consultations but also tests and peer support,” she said.

To volunteer with Heartbeat Victoria GV, call Robyn Fennell on 0427 241 724.

Below: Long-term support: Heartbeat Victoria volunteers and GV Health’s cardiology team celebrate the new blood pressure monitors. Photo by Lauren Formica.

Heartbeat Victoria volunteers supporting GV Health for over 30 years