Heartbeat Tasmania Inc. logo

Heartbeat Tasmania Inc.

Heart surgery support group

About us

Heartbeat Tasmania Incorporated is a volunteer association for ex-cardiac patients who, in appreciation of having been given 'a second chance', desire to contribute toward the support and assistance of other heart patients and carers. Heartbeat membership is also open to carers, family, friends and anyone interested in the welfare of cardiac patients.

Aims of Heartbeat

  • To provide reassurance, support, information and assistance to people suffering from cardiac disease and their families.
  • To promote friendship between ex-patients and carers through meetings and social activities.
  • To assist in providing funds to equip cardiac and recovery units around Tasmania.

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Heartbeat Tasmania's Constitution

Download a copy of Heartbeat Tasmania's Constitution here.

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History of Heartbeat Reassurance in Tasmania. The story so far.....

Ernie and Mollie Tomlin had both undergone heart bypass surgery, Mollie in 1979 in Melbourne and Ernie in 1983 in Adelaide. It was in Adelaide where they came into contact with Heartbeat South Australia and were most appreciative of the contact and compassion shown to them while being a long way from home.

Both the Tomlins have been the carer for each other and saw the benefits of a support group being formed to assist others who have either undergone or are about to undergo heart surgery. In 1985 Mollie and Ernie re-visited Adelaide to talk to the organisation in South Australia and returned to commence the opening of a similar group here.

Leading heart specialist Dr David Cutforth purposefully used the Tomlins around Hobart as befrienders to other patients and their carers who were about to travel interstate to undergo surgery. In 1993, following the opening of the Cardiac Suite in Hobart, Mollie and the widow of a bypass patient, Delia Brannan, were invited to monthly rehabilitation classes to provide reassurance to patients and carers.

In 1996, Mr David Hill, a cardiac surgeon at the time, realised the value of the reassurance officers, more especially from the point of view of the carer, and invited them to participate in the pre-assessment clinics. The Tomlins and Delia continued into 1997 when it became a regular occurrence and more volunteers were co-opted into the reassurance group.

Teams were developed with one member being able to provide first hand experience from the surgery point of view, the other from the carer perspective. One of the first was Valerie Pearce and her husband David, followed soon after by a hospital chaplain Les Batchelor and his wife Marjorie. In 1998 Shirley and Geoff Breaden were also brought onboard. It was also around this time that Helen Patterson was teamed with Delia.

During the time that Mollie was co-ordinating the reassurance, Ernie and David were providing a very important part of the organisation's other main function, that of providing patient transport to and from rehabilitation classes weekly.

Rehabilitation officers were identified in branches at Launceston, Ulverstone and Burnie. In 1998 Jack and Jan Clear commenced with the Heartbeat Reassurance team and by mid 1999 Jack had effectively assumed control as State and Hobart reassurance co-ordinator.

On October 7, 1999 Mollie officially stood down as State and Hobart Reassurance co-ordinator because of ongoing health problems but she and Ernie continued with the team until 2001.

New Reassurance officers were progressively inducted and included Steve Smith and Bill Phillips who commenced in January 2001. Shirley Breaden continued for a little while as part of the Smith/Phillips team after husband Geoff stood aside because of ill health. In late 2001 Shirley stood down to look after Geoff who sadly passed away in Jan 2002.

Francis Johnson with Peter Norris, and Gaye and Neville Behrens also commenced in 2001. Margaret and Graeme Manning began in March 2002 and Victoria and Jack Breadon in November 2002. In January 2002 Bill Phillips suffered from a surgical problem with his leg and while hopes of him returning to the fold continued, Steve soldiered on alone for around 12 months until in 2004 he decided to call it a day effectively closing down that team with Bill unable to return. Gaye and Neville Behrens continued until Dec 2004 where Gaye had accepted a teaching position and was unable to make available the time to continue. At this time the roster was reduced to 7 teams.

Far from slowing down, the Tomlins had also undertaken to carry the Heartbeat banner into Calvary Cardiac Centre where they provided a monthly talk to cardiac patients within that hospital's cardiac rehabilitation program. This role was also taken over by Jack Clear in early 2000 because of ongoing health problems for the Tomlins and caused their retirement from the active side of the reassurance team at the end of 2001.

Mollie and Ernie have both been awarded Life Membership of Heartbeat Tasmania, as have Delia, Valerie and David Pearce. Both, Mollie in 2001 and Delia in 2005, were awarded the OAM primarily for their services to Heartbeat.

In January 2006, Delia decided she was unable to continue due to continuing poor health. She subsequently passed away a few moths later. Helen Patterson, who had lost her father 18 months earlier, also decided that she needed to spend more time caring for her ageing mother.

Lee and Ron Adams were welcomed aboard in February 2006. In Dec 2006 Victoria and Jack Breadon discontinued because of Victoria's workload and they were replaced in January 2007 by Sandra and Kerry Flanagan. Jack Breadon rejoined the group in September 2007 taking over the Calvary role from Jack Clear.

Following a short illness, Peter Norris aged 71, passed away suddenly on 15 October 2007, two days later, Frances Johnson lost her husband Michael after a long illness and protracted hospitalisation. This was a huge blow for Frances and we all felt for her, having recently herself being involved in a horrific accident, losing her Heartbeat partner and her husband in quick succession. Barrie Button indicated his willingness to join the team and partner Frances commencing in January 2008.

Jack Clear had a heart attack in early December 2007 and subsequently resigned. Val and David Pearce also decided that they should finalise their association at the end of the year but following Jack's heart attack they continued into early in the New Year to assist in maintaining numbers.

Kerry Flanagan took over as State Reassurance Coordinator from Jack in December 2007 following Jack's decision to stand down to concentrate on his health issues.

Ross and Beverley Johns joined as a team in January 2008 following Ross's surgery in 2007.

Graeme and Margaret Manning advised that they would retire as Reassurance Officers at the end of 2009 after seven years of service, and Peter and Gloria Smith were brought into the fold in October 2009. Peter had his surgery in January 2009.

Francis Johnson announced in December 2009 that after giving it much thought, she would also like to retire from the Teams to concentrate on other interests in her life. Francis had given eight years of service to visiting patients at the Royal. This left Barrie Button without an offsider to assist him. Jack Breadon joined with Pam Stewart to form another team.

Mollie and Ernie Tomlin both passed away in 2009.

Peter Smith took over as State Reassurance Coordinator from Kerry Flanagan in March 2010 following Kerry's decision to stand down due to work and other commitments. Peter took over the role at Calvary Rehab from Jack Breadon in 2011.

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