HEART specialists have visited Bendigo for the first day of a game-changing program caring for sick children.
The Royal Children's Hospital cardiologists will visit every three months in a new partnership with Bendigo Health.
It was a breakthrough moment that will keep families in town, Bendigo Health's cardiology unit head Voltaire Nadurata said.
"It is a service that we have been working on for a long time," he said.
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Specialist pediatricians will give consultations, ultrasounds and echocardiograms.
"We will also have special training so that when they [Royal Children's Hospital cardiologists] are not here, we will be able to have someone who can look after that," Dr Nadurata said.
That work would be in close consultation with the Royal Children's Hospital's specialist teams, he said.
Royal Children's Hospital cardiologist Jacob Matthew sees many Bendigo patients and their families down in Melbourne.
"It's much easier for families - particularly those with complex needs - for us to reach out and see them here," he said.
"Some of them have to see a lot of different specialists in Melbourne and have to travel for many appointments."
Children's cardiology is a specialist area of pediatrics, Dr Matthew said.
Children are more likely to have congenital heart disease and other early life conditions.
Bendigo Health's team does not currently have full training in that area, though it does have a complete adult cardiology service.
Dr Nadurata said that until now there has been no Bendigo services that could go into the "nitty gritty" of child heart health.
"It's a completely different [medical] field, a completely different way of management," he said.
Dr Nadurata said there were conditions that were unique to children.
Dr Nadurata said that Bendigo Health and the Royal Children's had started their first day of the new program with 14 patients.
"We are starting small and seeing where it goes," he said.