The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Kath Kelly has received an award from Australian Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation Association. 

A pokies venue does not seem an obvious location to host a cardiac rehabilitation program, but the program’s coordinator felt she had hit the “jackpot”.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s cardiac rehab nurse Kath Kelly admits the venue in Moonee Ponds was “very unconventional”, but it also “ticked all the boxes”. It was used by RMH for cardiac rehab for 22 years until COVID struck.

“It was the first program not run in a hospital or community health centre in Australia,” says Kath.

Expanding RMH’s cardiac rehab services into the community is just one of the many achievements from Kath’s almost 30 years with the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

She was last week presented with a Merit Award from the Australian Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation Association for her contributions to ACRA, cardiac rehab and cardiovascular health. Kath says she was honoured and “a bit chuffed” to receive the award. “You often beaver away in your own program, but to be acknowledged by your peers was quite a highlight.”

Kath pioneered the cardiac rehabilitation nurse coordinator role established at the RMH in 1994, and it is a position she has held since (now as a job share).

“As the length of stay for patients who’d had a heart attack or cardiac operation reduced, there was a need to support them soon after they’d gone home,” she said.

She says cardiac rehab programs will continue to evolve and be forward-thinking and patient-centred.

“Cardiology is evolving all the time, so we are seeing a lot less people have bypass surgery, a lot more people have multiple stents.

“The landscape is changing and we have to evolve with the times to meet their needs as they evolve due to the nature of different technological advances.”

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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