The NSLHD Year in Review 2022 highlights the many staff achievements and initiatives of the last 12 months.
Northern Sydney Local Health District
A YEAR IN REVIEW 2022
NSLHD commences Australian-first net zero program
Official opening of Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital redevelopment
Sophisticated new robot driving innovation in joint surgery
Message from the Interim Chief Executive
This year has seen some extraordinary achievements in patient care, innovations and in our vast capital infrastructure program. In 2021/22 financial year we performed over 30,000 operations, we saw more than 216,000 presentations to our emergency departments (EDs), cared for over 132,000 patients admitted to our hospitals, delivered more than 1.3 million outpatient services, cared for over 5000 babies and delivered around 250,000 community health services. These numbers show the enormity of the work achieved but behind the numbers are people, our community, patients, carers and consumers who have received high-quality, safe care from our staff. All this has been achieved during what has been an incredibly challenging time to work in health – during a one in 100 year pandemic. And we still managed to sustain the performance of our services across the district – which I am proud to say is one of the highest performing districts in NSW. I want to acknowledge and thank our remarkable staff who have worked so hard to care for our patients during some very difficult times, especially during this busy winter. The fact that our hospitals managed to continue to treat patients in our emergency departments within clinical timeframes and remain among the best performing hospitals in the state is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our hardworking staff. The $321 million Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital redevelopment is finally complete. The hospital’s emergency department (ED) is three times larger than before and a new two-storey building housing community health services opened. For the very first time, Hornsby Hospital will have renal dialysis and chemotherapy services for patients which will change the lives of so many. Also just completed is the $19.5 million Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice (AYAH), which is due to open to patients early next year. The AYAH will provide patients 15 -24 years with life-limiting illness a contemporary home away from home that offers respite care, symptom management and end-of-life care. We have built a new interventional neuroradiology suite for our stroke patients at Royal North Shore Hospital. Our capital program also continued with the progression of the much-needed $425 million redevelopment of Ryde Hospital.
Our district is fortunate to have such great staff and it was wonderful to see so many staff rightly receive awards and honours. District staff were recognised in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and RNSH’s emergency department was a finalist in the NSW Premier’s Awards for its domestic violence screening project. And we continue to recognise our staff in the district’s Exceptional People Awards with more than 65 staff nominated for awards this year. We worked with the Aboriginal community to overcome the barriers for them in accessing healthcare services, with Mental Health Drug and Alcohol service’s Hey You Mob, Tell Us You Are Here program. We have expanded our youth mental health services. We now have more mental health Youth Response Teams embedded in the community right across the district to help young people in distress, avoiding the need for them to go to emergency departments in the vast majority of cases. We have partnered with northern Sydney GPs and hospital staff on an initiative to keep the frail and elderly out of hospital, providing them with faster access to specialists and support in the community. And we established the virtual hospital and expanded telehealth services. Our enhanced palliative care unit at Mona Vale Hospital is now admitting more patients directly from the community into our care, avoiding them needing to present to the ED. We strengthened our research focus and outcomes with the establishment of a new position, the NSLHD Chair of Research, which Professor Bruce Robinson has been appointed. He will be responsible for leadership advisory services and for driving the implementation of the district’s research strategy. We also released our strategic plan which will guide our organisation for the next five years. More than 800 staff took part in shaping the plan which sets out our future directions. Thank you to our staff, volunteers, consumers and our patients, carers and their families. I very much look forward to seeing what we can achieve in the year ahead.
Lee Gregory Interim Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Message from the Board Chair
Once again we have made some hugely significant achievements across wide-ranging areas despite the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The district, hospital executive teams and senior clinicians have shown their professionalism and dedication under the terrific leadership of former chief executive Deb Willcox. We welcomed Lee Gregory as the Interim Chief Executive and under his stewardship, we have continued the wonderful progress achieved. In a time of ongoing turbulence and challenges, solidifying and developing relationships with key partners has been crucial, and this has been successfully achieved. We have enhanced our university partnerships and are continuing to progress the St Leonards Health, Research and Education Precinct Plan, which outlines our vision to further develop public and private health services on the St Leonards campus as well as establishing a vibrant research and innovation health precinct with multiple university and industry partners. The St Leonards Health Precinct Plan Project has been formally recognised as a health precinct in the NSW Health – Health Precinct Strategy and has been listed as a major innovation precinct within the NSW Health – Research and Innovation Industry Prospectus. We have continued to collaborate with Sydney North Health Network (SNHN) in important areas of winter activity initiatives and virtual care. We have also had another successful joint annual Board meeting with the SNHN Board. We have continued to enhance our relationships with neighbouring private hospitals and residential aged care facilities. This includes signing new Service Level Agreements with Royal Rehab and HammondCare. We have enhanced the work of the Board committees, including working towards major positive outcomes for the Junior Medical Officer (JMO) Committee, and with the Consumer Committee hosting the district’s 2022 Consumer Forum. The Board will be creating a new Research and Innovation and Technology Committee in 2023. I very much enjoyed attending NSLHD Consumer Forum this year. Hearing from our consumers, understanding their needs and factoring them into our strategic thinking is critical. Promoting diversity, inclusion and belonging remains a significant focus area for the Board and there has been extensive progress in this area.
This has included the launch of the Advancing Women in Medical Leadership Working Group, which is focusing on reducing barriers to advancing women doctors in leadership positions and providing equitable access to leadership training programs across the district. We have further expanded our Speaking Up for Safety strategy, now providing training for more than 4500 employees, which builds a high performance culture of safety and reliability. The district’s ongoing and enduring commitment to planetary health, sustainability and being net zero by 2035 has been reinforced through various key initiatives throughout the year. We have established net zero leads to support staff to embed net zero carbon principles into the delivery of care. These staff include clinicians and will spend part of their work researching and educating on planetary health and finding ways we can reduce our carbon footprint. This year we established the NSLHD Board Honour Roll to recognise the exceptional and outstanding service by a person who has had strong involvement with the district over an extended period. The Board decided the first recipient should be former Chief Executive Deb Willcox in recognition of her exceptional and outstanding leadership of NSLHD over her term of service and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board is delighted to recognise and celebrate Deb’s service. During her time at NSLHD, Deb built strong, open, transparent and respectful relationships with staff at all levels and in all positions. She was and is a compassionate, hard-working leader and a high performing colleague with excellent communication and stakeholder engagement and management skills. She is a worthy first inductee to the NSLHD Honour Roll. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank NSLHD staff for their commitment and contribution to our community and provision of genuinely world-class care to our patients. You are all hugely valued and it has been truly inspiring to see your achievements. It promises to be an exciting year ahead with many great initiatives and projects already underway across our district.
Trevor Danos AM Board Chair, Northern Sydney Local Health District
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Key role to help lead journey to net zero emissions by 2035
NSLHD Planetary Health Manager Nicola Groskops
Nicola Groskops was appointed as NSLHD’s inaugural Planetary Health Manager to help lead the district towards net zero emissions by 2035.
“Our net zero leads from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and allied health disciplines, will lead teams of interested staff and students in their service or specialty and conduct action research projects to rethink and reimagine their service with a net zero lens. “Research shows that more than half of healthcare’s carbon footprint is from clinical care, and so it is critical that our staff are engaged in the development of high quality, low carbon models of care. “I encourage staff to work together on quality improvement and innovation initiatives they can champion in their service or department that reduce carbon emissions and help achieve our net zero target.”
The role involves the delivery and evaluation of the current NSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2021-2023 with the guidance of the NSLHD Planetary Health Committee, and working alongside the NSW Ministry of Health to achieve the 2035 target. Nicola said she felt privileged to take on such an integral role and to work with a team of colleagues who shared like-minded goals and aspirations for planetary health. “It is fantastic to be working under Paul Klarenaar, director population and planetary health, and to be guided by Dr Kate Charlesworth, medical consultant planetary health, who is an
inspiring leader in sustainability and planetary health for NSLHD and NSW Health more broadly.” Speaking on some of the focus areas in the short term, Nicola said the district was focused on the development of a baseline carbon footprint as well as commencing the NSLHD Net Zero Leads Program. “The development of a baseline carbon footprint for the district will allow us to better understand our carbon emissions across all hospitals and services, and monitor reductions over time,” she said.
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
An Australian-first: NSLHD embarks on net zero program
Clinicians have put up their hand to focus on sustainability initiatives as part of an Australian- first net zero program. A group of 12 nurses, doctors, pharmacists and allied health staff from three NSLHD hospitals will dedicate half-or one-day a week to be part of the NSLHD Net Zero Leads Program. Northern Sydney is the first local health service in Australia to establish such a program as part of an Australian-first sustainability program funded by NSLHD’s charity partner, the NORTH Foundation. RNSH anaesthetist Dr Penny Hodges never considered a role like this would be possible. She shares the net zero lead position with a colleague, each dedicating one day to it every fortnight. Penny said the opportunity to focus on sustainability alongside her clinical role was going to help her engage and empower colleagues to make sustainability a priority. “Being able to become a ‘green’ champion for the anaesthetics department is something very different to my day job and I am really excited about it,” Penny said. “We know anaesthetic gases represent 5 per cent of our hospital’s carbon footprint and our department has already
NSLHD Net Zero Program leads
been working to reduce this by educating our colleagues to use alternative gases that are less harmful to the environment. “Using desflurane for one hour is the equivalent of flying from Sydney to Melbourne in terms of carbon emissions. alternative gases such as sevoflurane not only significantly decreases these emissions, but also has a large financial using cheaper and more sustainable alternatives. “There is also great potential for reducing pharmaceutical wastage and improving waste segregation of general and clinical waste.” “Encouraging our colleagues to use benefit – in 2021 we saved $100,000 by
NSLHD Planetary Health Manager Nicola Groskops coordinates the program for NSLHD. “We asked staff at NSLHD to submit an expression of interest in the program and we were thrilled with the response – a real indicator of how enthusiastic clinical staff are about embedding environmentally sustainable practices,” Nicola said. “It’s exciting NSLHD is the first health service in Australia to undertake a program of this nature with such enthusiastic and passionate leads from different clinical areas. “Healthcare contributes 7 per cent to Australia’s carbon footprint, and clinicians are becoming more aware of this and want to address it.” NSLHD has committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2035, with most of the reduction – 70 to 80 per cent – to be achieved by 2030.
5000 LEDs replaced last year
220 toilets replaced with water-saving duel flush toilets
60,805 kg of electronic waste has been disposed of sustainably to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in landfill
resulting in estimated savings of $325,000 and 2600 tonnes of carbon
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Strategic Plan setting the course for the district
The NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027 was launched, providing a framework for how the district delivers care over the next four years. Over 800 staff, patients, carers, members of the local community, clinical leaders, and key partners helped shape the development of the strategic plan, which defines the key priorities and future goals of the district. Former chief executive Deb Willcox thanked the invaluable insight from staff and the community which helped to ensure NSLHD was well-placed to deliver high quality care. “Their insights, experiences, individual perspectives and feedback have been incredibly important. We thank them for their contribution in helping to ensure we are well-placed to continue to deliver high quality, person-centred care now and in the years ahead,” she said. As part of the new strategic plan, the district also launched a new vision: Exceptional Care, Leaders in Research, Partners in Wellbeing. “Our vision, together with our Strategic Plan 2022-2027, will guide the future of care in NSLHD,” Deb said.
NSLHD Board Chair Trevor Danos AM and former chief executive Deb Willcox with the new NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027
The key priority for both the Framework and NSLHD Strategic Plan is to deliver personalised healthcare and outcomes that matter most to our patients, carers, consumers and community.
“We look forward to working alongside each of you as we continue to care for our patients, our community and each other.” The strategic plan aligns closely with the NSW Health Future Health: Strategic Framework 2022-2032.
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Official opening of new-look Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital
(Left to right): Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, Member for Ku-ring-gai Alister Henskens, Member for Hornsby Matt Kean, Clare Skinner, Lee Gregory and Simon Hill
Hornsby Hospital was officially
“The new emergency department is three times the size of the previous ED and has purpose-built isolation rooms for patients who may be infectious, as well as a separate emergency unit for children,” Mr Hazzard said. “The entire facility is world-class – from the entrance to the new outpatients department, intensive care unit and the first public hospital robotic pharmacy in Australia.” ED Physician Dr Clare Skinner and Nurse Unit Manager Nick Cockrell led the ministers on a tour of the ED, which also boasts a new ambulance bay, improved waiting areas and expanded resuscitation bays. Interim Chief Executive Lee Gregory said it was a proud day for staff, many whom live and work in the community.
“As chief executive and formerly the general manager of Hornsby Hospital, I am very proud of what has been achieved by our redevelopment team, Health Infrastructure, the building and project management teams and all of the hospital staff, who were integral to the design of this building which has our patients at the heart of the design,” Lee said. “The hospital has been part of the community since 1933 and it has been very much a hospital for the community: with local volunteers, staff who have grown up in the area, had their babies here and the community who have for many decades raised funds to support the hospital.”
opened following its $265 million redevelopment. Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, Treasurer and Member for Hornsby, Matt Kean, and Minister for Skills and Training, Science Innovation and Technology and Member for Ku-ring-gai Alister Henskens toured the new emergency department (ED) which is three times the size of the previous ED. Unveiling the plaque, Mr Hazzard commended staff who had to endure multiple moves to allow for the redevelopment, under the cloud of COVID-19.
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Young Australian of the Year Daniel Nour founded mobile homeless medical service, Street Side Medics.
Young Australian of the Year goes to Royal North Shore Hospital doctor RNSH doctor Daniel Nour was named the 2022 Young Australian of the Year, in recognition of his work in providing care for people experiencing homelessness.
In 2020 Daniel founded Street Side Medics – a not-for-profit, GP-led mobile medical service for people across NSW experiencing homelessness.
volunteers across four clinics in NSW. The service aims to alleviate the barriers limiting access to healthcare by treating people with neglected medical needs and detecting conditions that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. In accepting his award Daniel said: “As Australians, it’s our responsibility to advocate for those who seem to have lost their voice and to rise up to the occasion, even when we question our
strong commitment to make a real difference to the lives of so many Australians. experiencing homelessness. “His strong social conscience, deep kindness and leadership is incredibly inspiring,” she said. “A huge congratulations Daniel – we are all so proud of you and cannot wait to see what the future holds for you and Street Side Medics.” Daniel gave the Australia Day address – the youngest speaker to ever deliver the national address. To find out more or volunteer with Street Side Medics, visit www.streetsidemedics.com.au
The free service operates from a van fitted with the necessary equipment to provide primary healthcare services to homeless communities across multiple locations. Former chief executive Deb Willcox said Daniel was so deserving of the award for his work delivering medical support to people experiencing homelessness. Over the last two years, Street Side Medics has grown to a team of 250
own ability to do so.” Deb said the award was a true testament to Daniel’s
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
A $400,000 robot, which may hold the key to significant improvements in hip and knee replacements, is being used in research at the Kolling Institute. Known as KOBRA, or the Kolling Orthopaedic Biomechanics Robotic Arm, the new technology “The next innovations however in joint replacement surgery will be delivered through improved Sophisticated new robot driving innovation in joint surgery
Professor Bill Walter, RNSH orthopaedic surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatic Surgery at the University of Sydney, said the next improvements will be delivered through new technologies provided by robots like KOBRA. “We have seen that previous innovations have come through new materials and design,” he said.
biomechanics of the artificial joints.” The robot has been made possible following a collaboration between NSLHD, the University of Sydney, the Kolling Institute, the NSW Investment Boosting Business Innovation program and the RNSH Staff Specialist Trust Fund.
delivers an advanced testing facility while greatly increasing research capabilities. It is the largest of its kind in Australia and one of just two SimVitro robots in the country. Director of the Kolling’s Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Lab, Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke, said “it represents a significant step for orthopaedic and biomedical engineering research, new surgical techniques and medical technologies. “KOBRA will be used to simulate complex human movements on joints. “This is a new way of working and very few other machines have this capability where they can test joints through a broad range of life-like manoeuvers, like hip flexing, squatting, walking and throwing. “We expect to use the robot in the testing of implants, particularly for hip and knee replacements, to gauge how the implants will function and to help ensure the movement is as life-like as possible.” The orthopaedic biomechanics
Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke and Professor Bill Walter with the KOBRA robot
robot is also likely to assist surgeons working to repair chronic shoulder instability.
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Celebrating surgical research, innovation and quality improvement
Dr Michael Symes with Prof. Bill Walter (left) and Prof. Tom Hugh
A celebration of surgical research and innovation was held with the combined presentation of the Harry Cumberland Travelling Scholarship and the inaugural Ray Hollings Surgical Excellence Award.
Both awards were established through generous philanthropic donations from the surgeons after whom they were named. They are offered annually to provide support for research, innovation and quality improvement. The event was jointly hosted by the Surgical Education Research & Training (SERT) Institute and the RNSH Department of Gastroenterology. Former NSLHD chief executive Deb Willcox acknowledged the significant contribution both Dr Cumberland and Dr Hollings made throughout their extensive surgical careers across the NSLHD.
Dr Bill Cumberland, son of the late Dr Harry Cumberland, and his wife Genevieve were in attendance to present the travelling scholarship while Dr Ray Hollings, his wife Beverly and family joined online. Dr Geoffrey Wong was the recipient of the Cumberland Travelling Scholarship for his study titled: “Early recurrence after resection of colorectal liver metastases, clinical data to proteomic biomarker discovery.” This work was under the supervision of Professor Tom Hugh.
Dr Krishna Kotecha was runner-up finalist for his study titled “Propensity score analysis on pancreatoduodenectomy patients following neoadjuvant chemotherapy.” This work was under the supervision of Clinical Professor Jas Samra and Clinical Associate Professor Anubhav Mittal. There were two recipients of the Ray Hollings award: Dr Michael Symes for the Spinal and Orthopaedic Research Epidemiology Database project, and Dr David Marshman for the peri-operative blood product usage in cardiothoracic surgery project.
10 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
The oral health service breaking language barriers
A telehealth system introduced by NSLHD Oral Health Services (OHS) is helping ensure non-English speaking
patients receive the best possible dental treatment. With assistance from the
NSLHD Virtual Care Team, the NSLHD OHS partnered with the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Health Care Interpreter Service (HCIS) to ensure interpreters could ‘attend’ appointments remotely via a virtual platform. The program was introduced during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to largely replace in-person attendance by interpreters, who would sometimes be delayed due to the volume of appointments and travel times. NSLHD OHS Business Manager Anju Sharma said the system was proving popular with everyone involved. “It has worked fabulously well,” she said. “We can save 10-15 minutes on many appointments, and we see the benefits in both time-and
Anju Sharma at the new clinic in Hornsby
LHDs, interpreters had to travel extensively to appointments, resulting in interpreters being occasionally delayed. One of the advantages of video interpreting is the increased availability of and faster access to interpreters. In addition, many other clinical services in NSLHD have adopted video interpreting, which is now available in 66 languages. The number of video interpreting sessions in the NSLHD increased from 199 sessions in 2020 to 1,070 sessions in 2021. In 2022 more than 2000 sessions have already occurred. “Many of our culturally and linguistically diverse patients use apps like Zoom and WhatsApp to
contact their relatives overseas, so using ‘online’ communication isn’t foreign to them,” WSLHD HCIS Manager Gordana Vasic said. “There’s a saying, ‘you should never waste a crisis’. Although it’s been challenging and using technology continues to be a learning process, we are delighted with how this is progressing.” NSLHD Multicultural Health Service Manager Cathy Butler said the introduction of video interpreting had been very timely. “It is important staff and consumers work together to ensure our services are culturally welcoming, safe and responsive to the diverse needs of our community,” she said.
cost-saving measures.” Prior to the pandemic, interpreters would mainly
attend appointments in person. As WSLHD HCIS covers three
11 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Virtual care hybrid model the new norm for children’s speech pathology team The uptake of virtual care across NSLHD skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is now the new norm for the district’s children’s speech
pathology department. The pandemic may have been the catalyst for the department to increase its use of virtual care, but today more than half of all appointments taking place are conducted virtually. The success of virtual care in the department is largely due to a hybrid model the team has implemented, said Anastasia Scott, NSLHD Primary and Community Health – Child, Youth and Family Health speech pathology team leader. “Most children now start with a virtual appointment with us and we can assess and see whether they then need to come in for a face-to-face appointment,” she said. “It gives families flexibility, such as if they have a child sick at home and can’t come into the clinic we can run the appointment virtually.
“This means sessions have continuity rather than parents having to cancel and re-book.” Anastasia said a key benefit of virtual care is the ability to see children in their natural environment. “Virtual care is particularly effective where we are looking at the parent and child interaction in the family’s home – it adds clinical effectiveness,” she said. Feedback from parents has led to parent groups moving online from in-person to allow more than one parent to attend and so they can take part from the comfort of their home. Samantha D’aft said her daughter Lucie was a “late talker” and has been visiting the RNSH children’s speech pathology clinic since she was two-years-old.
“As a COVID toddler, Lucie didn’t know any different when doing virtual sessions,” Samantha said. “A mix of virtual and face-to-face appointments has worked really well for her. “Megan [speech pathologist] has been really great at keeping Lucie engaged in online sessions and reading the situation when she was tired and no longer focused by doing a fun game to finish up.” The virtual sessions also made it easier for Samantha on her work days. “Online appointments are more convenient, being able to log on a minute before,” she said. “When Lucie may have been too sick to go into the clinic, we could still carry on with appointments from home.”
Lucie and speech pathologist Megan during a virtual care appointment
12 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Pain in neck turns out to be stroke
It was during a social game of Oztag that Alessandra Marcelo felt pain in her neck, but didn’t think much of it until a few hours later when she realised the pain was something much more serious. Upon returning home, the 28-year-old physiotherapist said the room started spinning. “I had to lie down and I was vomiting,” Alessandra said. “As a physio, I started thinking this could actually be a torn artery in my neck, or a vertebral artery dissection, which is classified as a medical emergency. “I told my partner to call an ambulance straight away and I was taken to Blacktown Hospital to be assessed and a CT scan showed the dissection.” A vertebral artery dissection is considered a medical emergency due to the risk of a blood clot and the risk of the clot dislodging and going up to the brain, like it did for Alessandra. “As a result of the dissection, I had a basilar ischemic stroke where a blood clot blocked off my basilar artery which provides oxygen-rich blood to the brain,” she said. “Thankfully I was already in hospital when I had the stroke, and at that point the doctors knew I had the dissection so were already consulting with my specialist
at Royal North Shore Hospital and discussing my treatment and planning my transfer from Blacktown.” RNSH Interventional Neurologist Dr Alice Ma said Alessandra was lucky to survive the catastrophic stroke. “What was initially a small injury to the vertebral artery developed into a severe stroke” Alice said. “Alessandra’s case was particularly complicated as she had bilateral vertebral artery dissections further compounding the effects of the clot blocking her brainstem. “Fortunately the stroke thrombectomy procedure was successful and we were able to reperfuse the brainstem and the visual cortex. I was still worried she would have a severe brain stem injury or a visual impairment but almost miraculously she woke up completely neurologically intact.” Alice said Alessandra’s recovery was a result of the teamwork and close collaboration of multiple specialty teams at RNSH. “The ICU team was particularly crucial in her post-operative care, optimising her hemodynamic management to allow time for her blood vessels
to start healing,” she said. Alessandra spent nearly two weeks in the ICU following her surgery. “The surgery itself was
incredible, it just blows my mind to think that Dr Ma went through my leg all the way up to my brain and removed the clot,” she said.
NSLHD 2022 Year in Review 13
Group working to increase voice of people with disabilities at NSLHD
NSLHD’s Employee Resource Network for Disability (ERNoD) has continued its efforts to increase the presence and voices of people with a disability. Group member and RNSH Occupational Therapist Elise Kerle attended the Australian Network on Disability’s Annual Conference. The conference examined how accessibility and inclusion can best be promoted and successfully embedded in organisations. “There was a presentation from the ABC which discussed the representation of people with a disability in the media,” she said. “That resonated with me because as a health service we should be reflecting the community we serve. “If you look around Royal North Shore Hospital, for example, you will see people in wheelchairs. There’s millions of people around the world with a disability leading successful lives, so having staff here with that lived experience themselves is vital. “This was a good chance to see what can be implemented to make a positive difference to people’s lives and ensure NSLHD is providing an inclusive workplace for everyone.” ERNoD is a voluntary, employee-led group which meets bi-monthly to
as disabled,” Elise said. “We must ensure we create opportunities for people who identify as disabled to feel comfortable working here.” Elise said the group was always looking for new members. It is open to people at NSLHD with a disability, carers of people with a disability or advocates for the employment of people with a disability. Elise Kerle (right), pictured with Tess Whelan, Stepping Into Internships program coordinator
discuss ways to better support people with a disability, as well as their supporters and carers. It was formed as part of the district’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy 2020-22. “More than four million people in Australia – so about 20 per cent – have some form of disability, but I think there’s only about 3 per cent within NSLHD who identify
14 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
NSLHD treated to NAIDOC Week celebrations
Members of Koomurri during celebrations at RNSH
Celebrations for NAIDOC Week returned to NSLHD, marking this year’s theme: Get up! Stand up! Show up!
Events at Ryde, Hornsby and Royal North Shore hospitals featured singing, dancing and giveaways as the NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service put on a spectacular show at each site, with the help of Koomurri and the Kiris An Taran Dance Troupe. At Ryde, a smoking ceremony and yidaki performance took place at the yarning circle followed by more dancing and celebrations on the verandah of Denistone House. Staff were also treated to delicious Indigenous food including emu, crocodile and kangaroo sliders. Staff at Royal North Shore and Hornsby Hospitals were treated to a smoking ceremony alongside a yidaki performance by Koomurri
Acting Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service Paul Weir thanked staff, patients and community members for taking part in NAIDOC Week celebrations. “It was deadly to see the number of staff and community who attended our NAIDOC events despite the cold and wet weather conditions,” he said. “Our colleagues really showed us how we as a district “Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!” and on behalf of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service, I’d like to thank everyone across the district for taking part in the celebrations.”
Former chief executive Deb Willcox said it was wonderful to see so many staff members embrace NAIDOC Week. “The theme is about the desire to improve the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non- Indigenous Australians to one that is based on justice, equity, and the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” she said. “It’s important we “Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!” and amplify our voices to bring about this much needed change, and come together as one nation.” At Mona Vale Hospital, the construction of a yarning circle began with construction firm NPM Indigenous on board to create it.
and Torres Strait Islander dance by the Kiris An Taran Dance Troupe.
15 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Celebrating NSLHD’s allied health professionals
Allied health celebrations were in full swing at Hornsby Hospital
Allied health staff from RNSH celebrate AHP Day
More than 1660 allied health professionals working across 22 disciplines in Northern Sydney were celebrated
Chief Executive Lee Gregory said it highlighted the essential collaborative care allied health clinicians provided. “This is reflective of the remarkable care our allied health staff provide to patients and consumers in acute, rehabilitation and community setting,” he said. “I would like to say a huge thank you to our allied health professionals – you are an incredible group of people and we truly appreciate your commitment and dedication.” On the day held on 14 October, NSLHD Director of Allied Health
Julia Capper announced the winners of the annual Allied Health Professionals Awards, and staff were treated to gelato. “Our allied health clinicians work hard every day to make a difference in people’s lives and this is recognised by our patients and consumers, their families, and the multi-disciplinary teams they contribute to,” Julia said. “Thank you for the remarkable contribution that you make every day – your dedication,
on Allied Health Professions Day.
Allied Health Professions Day was started in 2018 by two clinicians in the United Kingdom. The clinicians wanted to recognise allied health professionals and their contribution to patient care and population health. This year’s theme was Stronger Together, and NSLHD Interim
energy, flexibility and compassion.”
16 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
Researchers identify the best ways to ease chronic back pain With large numbers of people across the community looking for effective and lasting ways to treat pain, researchers at the Kolling Institute are driving nationally significant projects to reduce reliance on opioid medication and promote proven alternative options.
Professor Paul Glare
The research by the team from the Pain Management Research Centre comes as the latest figures indicate around 20 per cent of the population experience chronic pain and a large share of those still rely on opioid treatment to reduce the impact of their pain. Centre Director and RNSH specialist Professor Paul Glare said despite the wide use of opioids, researchers knew they were not an effective, long-term option for most people, and caused a wealth of adverse side effects including addiction issues. “Opioid use is directly linked to an increase in mortality, and now accounts for more deaths than car accidents,” he said. “Our research is focusing on the best ways to reduce opioid use considering the complex challenges with
medication withdrawal and patient fears that their pain will become unmanageable. “Our research indicates that cognitive behavioural therapy is the most effective option to reduce pain, and patients are three times more likely to be able to stop their opioid use if they adopt the self-management strategies promoted through the cognitive based therapies.” One part of the research program is to assess the effectiveness of digital technologies to support those with chronic pain while reducing their reliance on opioids. Associate Professor Claire Ashton-James said demand for support was at an all-time high. “Our research has initially focused on how patients would like to
engage with the programs, and one key trend has shown us that the community would prefer to receive consistent SMS messages, rather than tap into an app,” she said. “With the number of people experiencing chronic pain continuing to escalate, it’s crucial that we’re able to provide the very latest evidenced-based data around the treatments that work and help people manage their pain. It can make a lifechanging impact. “Our research has led to the development of carefully scripted messages, videos and patient testimonies.“ This trial is being funded by the Ernest Heine Family Foundation and it is hoped the strategies will directly assist those living with constant pain.
17 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
NSLHD celebrates International Nurses Day
Hornsby nurses were gifted pot plants to celebrate the day
Hampers, lunch, awards and games brought in this year’s International Nurses Day celebrations for nurses across the district.
International Nurses Day is an important day on the calendar every year, to recognise the commitment of our nurses and the amazing care they provide to patients. Celebrations across NSLHD on 12 May included an array of awards, food and games in what was a well-deserved day of recognition for nurses across the district. Royal North Shore and Mona Vale hospitals staff competed in their own Amazing Race-style event, with the severe burns unit (SBU)
prevailing as tough competition, taking home the trophy for the second year in a row at RNSH. The urgent care centre took out the prize at Mona Vale. Staff at Ryde Hospital were treated to a breakfast for those on night duty, and lunch for those on day and afternoon shifts. Nurses at Hornsby Hospital received a range of hampers, plants and food platters to mark the occasion. Nursing and midwifery awards
ceremonies were held across the district presenting nurse of the year and team of the year, among other award winners. NSLHD Director of Nursing and Midwifery Claire Harris said: “it was great to see the northern nursing spirit on this day. Congratulations to all award winners and to all of our nurses across NSLHD for your achievements over the past year. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to providing high quality care, and for making this district a leader across the state.”
Mona Vale Hospital’s Nurse of the Year winner with Director Nursing and Midwifery Claire Harris
Mental Health Drug and Alcohol award winners and finalists
Ryde Hospital celebrates International Nurses Day
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RNSH midwives celebrating International Day of the Midwife
Midwives mark 100 years of progress
Hampers, cupcakes, games and awards kicked off the celebrations for International Day of the Midwife at Hornsby and Royal North Shore hospitals.
Midwives across NSLHD are celebrated every year on 5 May. Midwives across the district help bring more than 5000 babies into the world each year. This year’s theme was 100 Years of Progress. One hundred years ago, the International Midwives Union was created in Belgium, which was the forerunner of the International Confederation of Midwives. Former NSLHD chief executive Deb Willcox said it was a time for celebrating the compassionate care, devotion and kindness midwives provided to thousands of women and their families every year.
“The support, education and care our midwives provide stays with women and their families long after they have left the care of our hospitals and services,” she said. “Our midwives take on such a special role in so many people’s lives, putting women and their family at the centre of care and at the heart of every decision. “Their dedication and skill has such a huge impact at such a life-changing time. “Thank you to all our midwives working across our hospitals, services and in the community.”
NSLHD Director of Nursing & Midwifery Claire Harris; Hornsby Hospital’s Director of Midwifery and Nursing, Drew Hilditch-Roberts, and former Hornsby maternity nurse unit manager Sonya Holley.
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An online toolkit to support mental health recovery and wellbeing has been developed to help voice hearers. The mental health online toolkit helping voice hearing
‘Let’s Talk About Voices’ is an online toolkit which features a series of videos and worksheets to help people explore, navigate and learn about the voice hearing experience. Seven videos and worksheets were developed by the NSLHD Specialist Rehabilitation Service over a period of three years. Senior Specialist Rehabilitation Clinician Haylee Zink said the toolkit would enable consumers to improve the relationship with their voices and help them to develop strategies for coping with them. “The vision of the project was to make psychological approaches that support the voice hearing experience more readily available and accessible to all,” she said. “This online toolkit is targeted towards voices hearers who wish to further explore their experiences and opportunities to manage these, as well as supporting workers, families and carers. “It moves us beyond a medical model and symptom reduction approach as the toolkit supports one to better understand, make sense of and live with voices.” Haylee said the toolkit was developed in line with the NSLHD MHDA Declaration and Statement of Intention, which
states that the service will ‘strive to support each person’s unique journey of recovery in a humane way that fosters hope, purpose and resilience.’ “As we continually work towards the NSLHD Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Declaration and Statement of Intention, we are hopeful that
this resource is a practical, tangible example of meaningful action and change,” she said. “I would like to thank everyone who was involved in helping bring this to life – Lyndal Sherwin, Kirralee Hall, Dr Stephanie Bradstock, consumers, peer workers and all the creative teams.”
Senior Specialist Rehabilitation Clinician
Haylee Zink and Rehabilitation Coordinator Maddie Migdoll at the launch of the toolkit.
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Hornsby Hospital Pink Ladies mark diamond anniversary
The Pink Ladies Auxiliary marked its 60th anniversary by moving into a new shop at the main entry, where their handmade and donated giftwares greet visitors as they enter the new building. Volunteers officially first began at Hornsby Hospital in June 1962, when the hospital looked very different to the modern designed building that it is now. Over the decades, the volunteers have given countless hours of their time to support staff and patients, as well as raising thousands of dollars to buy medical equipment for the hospital.
Some of the equipment purchased has included speech pathology chairs, ultrasounds, patient trolleys, and orthopaedic surgical equipment. In 2017, the Pink Ladies bought a significant piece of equipment for the intensive care unit, the Bellavista 1000 – a $55,000 automated ventilator machine. Hornsby was the first public hospital in Australia to use this cutting-edge ventilator which automatically adjusted a patient’s oxygen flow, instead of staff having to adjust it manually. In 2004, the Pink Ladies underwent one of their biggest changes by allowing men to join for the first time. Pink Ladies Auxiliary President Brian Minnett said being a
volunteer meant he was helping to support the hospital provide high quality care to patients and their families. “Right from the start I have had a feeling of fulfilment knowing that I was helping the hospital, staff and my fellow volunteers in a worthwhile position,” he said. “I am now in my 15th year as a volunteer, and I have watched Hornsby Hospital grow. We have witnessed changes to patient care that I would never have imagined happening when I was a patient many years ago. “Having seen the changes in volunteer duties, I am convinced there will always be a place for volunteers at Hornsby Hospital.”
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Remarkable service recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours This year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours roll featured three exceptional NSLHD representatives, highlighting an extraordinary commitment to the health of our community.
Dr Michelle Mulligan OAM Dr Michelle Mulligan was awarded a prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to medicine, particularly to anaesthesia. As a specialist anaesthetist
Michelle has had many roles with the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, including as its Director of Professional Affairs. Michelle said being included in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours was quite a surprise. “I’m totally humbled, and it was completely unexpected,” she said. “It is a privilege to be an anaesthetist and to be able to contribute. I’ve enjoyed every minute. “To get an award for doing something you love is very unexpected.”
in both the public and private sector, Michelle is the Clinical Director of the NSLHD Surgery and Anaesthesia Network. She had a key leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping the district navigate the challenges of the pandemic as clinical lead of the Clinical Advisory Group. Michelle has been a NSLHD board member since 2017 and is a board member of the Agency for Clinical Innovation and Clinical Excellence Commission. She is also a member of the district’s Finance, Risk and Performance Committee.
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Professor Sarah Hilmer AM Professor Sarah Hilmer was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to clinical and geriatric pharmacology .
She has worked as the Head of Clinical Pharmacology and as a geriatrician at RNSH since 2005. Her research and clinical expertise is respected both nationally and internationally. Sarah leads a research program in ageing and pharmacology at the Kolling Institute and has contributed widely to the management of medication. She chairs the RNS/Ryde Hospital Drug and Therapeutics Committee, the NSW Therapeutic Advisory Group, and initiated the NSW Health COVID-19 Drug and Therapeutic Advisory Community of Practice. Her research focuses on understanding and optimising medication use and improving outcomes in older people, particularly those living with multiple conditions. She developed the Drug Burden Index, a tool to measure the overall risk of
a person’s medicines to their physical and cognitive function. This tool is being used widely across NSLHD and the Central Coast Local Health District. “I am lucky to have worked in clinical practice, research and policy, with a wonderful network of mentors, colleagues and mentees,” she said. “I am particularly glad that I have helped train clinicians and researchers with backgrounds in medicine, pharmacy, nursing and basic science in geriatric pharmacology, who can help build this emerging field. “I hope that our work improves medicines use and outcomes for older people, whether they’re at home, in a residential aged care facility or in hospital.”
Professor Leigh Delbridge AM Emeritus Professor Leigh Delbridge was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to endocrinology and medical education. He has been a senior endocrine surgeon at RNSH for more than 20 years, including a decade as head of surgery.
He has also been Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney for more than 20 years. He is Australia’s most experienced parathyroid and thyroid surgeon and performed the first minimally invasive parathyroidectomy in Australia using endoscopic techniques. He has completed more than 10,000 parathyroid and thyroid operations, and continues to do over 500 such procedures each year.
Leigh has been the President of the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons, founding committee member of Australia and New Zealand Endocrine Surgeons, and Chairman of the Endocrine Surgery Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. His research interests include the epidemiology of thyroid and parathyroid neoplasia, as well as the development of minimally invasive surgical techniques. He has published over 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals.
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