HSA Opens Peer Support Group in Alice Springs

Heart Support Australia (HSA) is opening their inaugural Northern Territory Peer Support Group in Alice Springs on Tuesday 20 February, giving post-heart event support for cardiac patients in
the area.

The HSA Peer Support Groups are unique communal support programs that offer comfort and
guidance to those who have recently undergone a heart event and for those who have
experienced heart conditions and rehabilitation.

HSA CEO Dr Christian Verdicchio says, “Unfortunately, far too often when people are
diagnosed with or undergo treatment for a heart condition, they don’t have ongoing support and
that can be incredibly isolating.”

“Our support groups are designed to ensure our patients are staying on the path to a healthier
life by making it known to them that they are not alone because they are interacting with their leader and group members who have gone through similar circumstances,” he says.

Leading the Alice Springs Peer Support Group is Centralian Senior College teacher Matt Skoss who was attacked by over 30 bees while helping a local beekeeper over the Easter break in 2023.

“They found the gaps in my old gardening gloves, resulting in a heart attack,” Matt says.

“I was rushed to the ED at Alice Springs Hospital, which did a sterling job to stabilise me. Next morning I was transferred to Adelaide with the RFDS where an angiogram confirmed the need for a double bypass,” he says.

Matt missed three school terms in a recovery that took a long time for his energy levels to return to normal. Now he is “giving back” to the community of family, friends and colleagues that were
a “big factor” helping him resume his pre-heart event lifestyle.

“Cardiac events are often unexpected and provide a real ‘jolt’ to your life. Being able to facilitate the sharing of experiences and provide support to other people recovering from cardiac events
is a way of helping people and that’s why I’m proud to be the leader of the group in Alice
Spring,” Matt concludes.

The peer support program initiative derives from a new era of managing heart disease that empowers heart patients with education, improved self-esteem, and larger support networks that result in less of a strain on our health system with fewer hospital stays and trips to the GP.

The Alice Springs Peer Support Group takes place on the third Tuesday of each month at the
50 Plus Community Centre, Anzac Oval, 11 Wills Terrace from 4 – 5pm.

Heart Support Australia encourages people to get involved with the community support session
by RSVPing here or by getting in touch with group leader Matt Skoss by emailing
matt.skoss@gmail.com or by calling 0418 624 631.

HSA Opens Peer Support Group in Alice Springs