While preparing to celebrate Christmas with family, Marion went to bed on Christmas eve with the feeling she wasn’t breathing properly.

After a few hours with no improvement and trying all of her usual solutions, including asthma medications and anxiety assistance, the issue kept getting worse. She soon called an ambulance and went to Wodonga Hospital for urgent treatment where she was checked over and eventually left with a medication to treat pneumonia. Two weeks later and the breathing issues remained even though Marion felt well otherwise.

For the next few weeks Marion continued to see a range of specialists to help with her breathing issues, she had to stop work as a child care worker as she wasn’t fit enough to continue.

Her GP then sent Marion for an echocardiogram and the cardiologist diagnosed cardiomyopathy.

Marion commenced a program to rebuild her heart health but after six months the results showed no improvement.

Marion’s medical team made contact with Cardiologist A/Prof Justin Mariani at St Vincent’s Private. With Marion in Wodonga and Justin in Melbourne a telehealth appointment was set up.

“The telehealth set up was the best. I was able to easily ask everything I wanted and see everything Justin was showing me. We saved money by not having to go to Melbourne, not only saving on petrol but on accommodation and my husband didn’t have to take a day off work” said Marion.

“Having the telehealth appointment locally made me feel really confident about heading to St Vincent’s Private for my operation.”

A/Prof Justin Mariani confirmed, “Patients in regional areas can easily have a telehealth consultation using simple tools such as Skype and a podcasting microphone. I set my own room up so that the patient can easily see everything we are talking about. I can clearly show them the devices we need to discuss, if that’s applicable.”

Not long after the telehealth appointment Marion was admitted to St Vincent’s Private for a 3-lead biventricular defibrillator, a special pacemaker/defibrillator for patients with certain types of heart failure.

“It was beautiful at St Vincent’s Private, everybody was a great team and can’t be thanked enough” says Marion.

“I would highly encourage anyone to take up the offer of using telehealth services to save on a trip to Melbourne, it’s easy to ask questions and it’s just like being in the same room. Unfortunately I can’t have my review via a screen to check on me!”

A/Prof Mariani travels to Bairnsdale every month to see patients and has found that using telehealth facilities provides a useful, timely and cost effective mode of seeing patients for a consultation. “Without telehealth, a patient may be required to undertake a return trip of over seven hours for a 20 minute appointment. We now try as much as possible to reduce the need for patients to do this.”

A/Prof Mariani has private consulting rooms across the road from St Vincent’s Private Fitzroy and consults at the Alfred, Reservoir and Bairnsdale.

To make an appointment call the rooms on 03 9998 8300 or visit www.justinmariani.com.au