St Vincent’s cardiologist named Toowoomba Citizen of the Year
St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba cardiologist Dr Bob Ayres was named Toowoomba's 2022 Citizen of the Year. Dr Ayres received this award for his dedication to the region's sick and injured throughout his 27 year career. He retired from practice in late 2020, hanging up his stethoscope for the final time.
However, Dr Ayres’ pathway to become a cardiologist wasn’t straightforward.
He came from Toobeah, west of Goondiwindi, and attended Toowoomba Prep for primary school, then went on to Churchie in Brisbane where he says he distinguished himself by failing Year 12 - twice.
After working for five years, he repeated Year 12 and then went to university to become a vet and later studied medicine. Dr Ayres found Cardiology the most interesting specialty, one which allowed lots of scope for procedural work, and because of the multiple interventions possible.
Settling in Toowoomba in 1993, Dr Ayres was the first and only cardiologist west of Brisbane. There was no local Cardiac Cath Lab, meaning both he and his patients had to travel to the Wesley and Greenslopes hospitals for 9 years. This resulted in a close and ongoing working relationship with Brisbane cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. Dr Ayres was instrumental in opening two Cardiac Cath Labs in Toowoomba, which enabled patients to have a coronary angiogram performed locally.
“Having the emergency centre and now the new emergency department here at St Vincent’s has also made a big difference to cardiac care available locally,” Dr Ayres said.
During his time at St Vincent's, Dr Ayres hosted the Cardiovascular Education Weekend annually since 2003, which provided cardiac education for 120 GPs and specialists each year. He has seen over 15 000 patients throughout his 27 year career.
Dr Ayres reflected it was “bittersweet” to retire as he saw some patients for almost 30 years, but he was heartened by knowing they were in the capable hands of cardiologist colleagues.
“Working in a regional centre like Toowoomba is very different as the patients become like friends, especially as we have a shared rural background. I certainly miss everyone I have worked with on the cardiac ward and in the cardiac cath lab over the years.”
St Vincent’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rob Gray, speaks highly of Dr Ayres' contribution to specialist medicine on the Downs.
“From being the single hand in cardiology to being the architect of a mature and responsible intervention service here at St Vincent’s, our community has had continuous but always evolving reasons to be truly thankful for his contribution,” Dr Gray said.