NSLHD News May 22

Get the latest news from across Northern Sydney Local Health District.


Celebrating our nurses Our staff across the district celebrated our fantastic nurses on International Nurses Day on 12 May. Check out how they celebrated the special occasion.

Read more on Page 4-7

HerbeRt street redevelopment Page 3

royal north shore during spanish flu pandemic Page 9

Leaders in healthcare, partners in wellbeing


Message FROM the acting Chief executive Dr Tamsin Waterhouse

message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox

I had a great couple of weeks visiting nurses across our hospitals and services to celebrate International Nurses Day 2020. Listening to their stories, seeing them connect with patients and each other is always uplifting. This week was also National Volunteer Week 2020 and a great opportunity to thank our many volunteers. It takes many types of people to help our hospitals and health services deliver the best care we can for our patients and the community. The generosity of spirit of our volunteers contributes an enormous amount to our hospitals and services. Our staff rely on our volunteers to deliver that exceptional care. Normal activities and events to celebrate the contribution of our volunteers have been postponed while we respond to COVID-19. I very much look forward to welcoming our many volunteers back, hopefully in the very near future. The NSW Government recently announced a proposed redevelopment of Herbert Street which includes a portion of the Royal North Shore Hospital campus. It will be known as the Herbert St Precinct, St Leonards Redevelopment Project. This has the potential to be an exciting opportunity to transform the RNS Hospital campus and provide a number of enhancements including key worker housing, restoration of heritage buildings and open spaces. I look forward to working with RNS Hospital staff over the coming months to ensure the proposed redevelopment meets the needs of our patients, staff, visitors and our community now and into the

future. More information on the proposal is on page three of this newsletter and on the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website www. herbertstreetprcinct.com.au. Finally, International Clinical Trials Day was held on 20 May and commemorates the commencement of the first recorded controlled clinical trial, in 1747, that showed a link between the consumption of fresh fruit and the prevention of scurvy. The study changed the face of medical research and clinical care. Northern Sydney Local Health District has an outstanding track record of undertaking clinical research. Our staff work at the forefront of the global research community to ensure we can offer our patients the opportunity to access ground breaking interventions before they are widely available - sometimes these trials provide our patients with better treatment or a potential cure for their disease or condition. From cancer and palliative care to vascular surgery to aged care and rehabilitation services, there is so many fantastic trials being undertaken by our staff. I want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate those of you involved in clinical trials and for your efforts. The studies you undertake are changing patient’s lives.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District

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Herbert st redevelopment: New services and facilities The NSW Government has announced a proposed redevelopment of Herbert Street which includes a portion of the Royal North Shore Hospital campus.

This has the potential to see enhancements such as keyworker housing, a medi-hotel, improved pedestrian and public transport connectivity and carer’s accommodation. As well as the new services and facilities, the redevelopment also includes plans for the historic including revitalisation of the hospital’s heritage including the Vanderfield Building and the inclusion of public green space. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said she was looking forward to working with staff to ensure the project matched its promise. “This is an exciting opportunity to help shape the transformation of our campus and provide world-class facilities for the community in line with the RNSH Master Plan endorsed in 2012,” she said. “I very much look forward to working with you to ensure the proposed redevelopment meets the needs of our patients, staff and visitors now and into the future.” Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey, said the Government’s vision for the Herbert Street Precinct will improve social, health and economic outcomes. “This development will keep the Royal North

Minister Melinda Pavey addresses Seven News at the site of the proposed Herbert St Precinct redevelopment

Shore Hospital family working and living and commuting together,” the Minister said. The Government will shortly undertake a detailed consultation program with the RNSH community, government agencies, Willoughby Council, local businesses and the general public. Details of the consultation activities and events will be made available shortly. For more information on the project, visit www.herbertstreetprecinct.com.au

Herbie brings joy during covid-19 Herbie, resident therapy dog based at Royal North Shore Hospital has been working hard to keep people smiling and lift their spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Golden Labrador Retriever cross is the source of many special moments at the hospital, whether it’s a calming pat, ear to listen to or a friendly paw to share. Herbie has been bringing smiles to the faces of patients, staff and visitors for the past year and has a positive impact on everyone he meets. Therapy dogs like Herbie improve patients’ social, emotional and physiological health.

Herbie is the resident therapy dog at Royal North Shore Hospital



Celebrating International nurses day



Paying tribute to our nurses across the district

Mona Vale Nursing Award Winner Ellie Bitmead

It is one of the most special days on the calendar in healthcare, but this year’s International Nurses Day took on even more meaning as 2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. While the obvious challenges of COVID-19 made this year a little different, nurses across Northern Sydney Local Health District came within 1.5 metres of each other to celebrate. District Director of Nursing and Midwifery Jenny Neilsen paid tribute to the nurses who make such a positive difference to lives on a daily basis. “During the COVID-19 pandemic we have

again seen the best of nursing in the daily displays of dedication, leadership, and commitment,” she said. “As our proud history has shown, and is manifested daily in our work, nurses continue to show compassion, innovation, creativity, resilience and integrity. “These are extraordinary times, but as always Northern Sydney Local Health District nurses, standing firmly on the shoulders of our historical giants, hold firm to the values of our profession and confidently meet the challenges set before us. “NSLHD nurses proudly champion best practice and quality safe care, and rightly take their place in nursing history.” NSLHD Chief Executive and former ICU nurse Deb Willcox echoed Jenny’s sentiments. “There’s no secret this year has been challenging, but I want to say a huge thank you to all of you for your hard work and dedication to our patients,” Deb said. “It was a pleasure to meet so many of you over the course of last week; I hope you all had a happy International Nurses Day.”

Staff enjoyed cupcakes to celebrate the occassion



stay up-to-date with nslhd on social media NSLHD on Facebook

NSLHD on Twitter • twitter.com/NthSydHealth NSLHD on LinkedIn • linkedin.com/company/northern-sydney- local-health-district/

• facebook.com/nthsydhealth/ • facebook.com/RydeHospital/ • facebook.com/MonaValeHospitalNSW/ • facebook.com/RoyalNorthShore/ • facebook.com/HornsbyHospital/

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Share your news and achievements. Contact our team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD-media@health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.



2020 NSLHD Quality and improvement awards to go ahead

Last year’s Quality and Improvement award winners

It has never been a more important time to

Improvement Awards are an important acknowledgement and celebration of the amazing work that our people do to keep our hospitals and health services safe and provide high standards of care.” In light of COVID-19, the approach for the awards has been amended, with the

received previously for 2020 have been retained and they will not have to be resubmitted; • The awards ceremony will be held on 28 July at 9.30-11am and will be live streamed. Entry forms and further information can be found here: https://bit.ly/2WNRmZZ For any questions, please contact: NSLHD-Awards@ health.nsw.gov.au.

acknowledge the important work our staff do to improve the safety and quality of healthcare for our patients, consumers, families and carers. The district awards had been put on hold while our hospitals responded to COVID-19, however they will be going ahead for 2020. NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said: “The Quality and

important dates below: • Nominations can be

submitted up until 10 June (COB), all nominations

New app to help people manage alcohol consumption NSW Health has recently launched Drinks Meter – an app that offers confidential, personalised feedback about alcohol use based on advice from doctors and in line with Australian guidelines. cheeseburgers and chocolate bars. Drinks Meter also includes tools to help people cut down on their drinking, like weekly goal setting and a drinking diary.

The free app allows users to easily enter and keep track of their alcohol intake, calculate the amount they spend on alcohol and find out how much they’re drinking in equivalent standard drinks. Users can also find out much alcohol they are drinking in kilojoules and calories – equivalent to foods like

Director of Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Andrea Taylor said the app could be particularly useful during this time where many people in the community may be experiencing stress and anxiety. “In this time of social distancing and isolation Drinks Meter can help those who

may be struggling by enabling them to manage their own alcohol consumption and set realistic goals,” she said. Download the Drinks Meter app on the App Store or Google Play.



royal north shore during an earlier pandemic 1919 The Royal North Shore

Hospital of Sydney finds itself at the front-line of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. These are challenging times for the staff, who are all making an extraordinary contribution. But this is not the first pandemic that this hospital has had to face. In 1919 Royal North Shore Hospital was emerging from the Great War. These years had been tough. Most of the medical staff took leave of absence to serve overseas; many of the qualified nursing staff and masseuses (forerunners of the physiotherapists) resigned to play their part in the war effort. Just as the hospital looked towards recovery, the ‘Spanish flu’ crept across the world, and RNSH was not immune from its devastating effects. When a soldier returning to Sydney from Melbourne on 24 January 1919 became ill with the flu the local authorities were aware of the consequences. The Department of Health immediately closed down all places where crowds could congregate, such as schools, universities, theatres, libraries and by the end of January, all citizens were required by law to wear masks. On 28 March 1919, a representative from the Department of Health rang the Chairman of the North Shore Hospital Board. The request was for the immediate release of at least 65 beds (the total hospital capacity at the time was 120) to receive influenza patients. Not only did the Chairman and Matron, achieve this almost impossible task,

A group of nurses duing the pandemic in 1919

but he drew up plans for a wooden structure to house the nurses, who would remain in isolation while nursing these patients. Local builders constructed the facility within a few days. Between 28 March and 31 July 1919, the hospital admitted a total of 534 patients (often transferred to the rehabilitation service set up at the Crow’s Nest Public School, which was otherwise empty during the pandemic, with the closure of all schools). On 4 June 1919, with the numbers of sick patients having fallen significantly, the chief resident medical officer hoped that the special isolation wards could close. Alas, a distinct recrudescence occurred, and a further 28 cases presented within a few days. Overall, 74 patients died. Thirty-four nurses attended to the sick, and although 20 nurses developed symptoms, there were no deaths. One Sydney University medical student, John Nicholson, contracted the disease while working at one of the community Influenza

depots and died at RNSH on 12 May. He was 22 years old. The only staff member to die was Dr John Basil St. Vincent Welch (1881-1919), an Honorary Surgeon. His is a particularly tragic story. Dr Welch graduated from the University of Sydney MB ChM in 1906 and took up his appointment at RNSH. He was one of the first to enlist for service in WWI. Lieutenant Colonel Welch commanded a unit that landed at Anzac Cove at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Although wounded, he survived and subsequently served in Egypt and at the Somme, when he received a Distinguished Service Order for his gallantry. Welch returned to his surgical position at RNSH in early 1919 but died of pneumonic influenza at RNSH on 21 May 1919. With the end of the pandemic of 1919, the hospital emerged from the turmoil and soon returned to ‘normal’ functioning. Catherine Storey OAM MB BS MSc FRACP Honorary Archivist RNSH



NORTH Foundation Campaign raises vital funds for nslhd A total of $32,000 has been raised for our hospitals thanks to the NORTH Foundation’s latest campaign, COVID-19 Support Funds.

NORTH Foundation reached out to patients, families and visitors who accessed Wi-Fi services across the district’s hospitals with a message outlining the district’s response to COVID-19 and the facilities, up-skilling and equipment needed to continue to respond. Almost half of those in the community who generously responded with a donation chose to donate to a specific department or unit within the hospitals. NORTH Foundation CEO Gilbert Lorquet said this donation behaviour highlights

the preference of the community to be engaged with grateful patient giving. “Individuals chose to give back to departments or units where they or their loved one had received care or treatment,” Mr Lorquet said. “A huge thank you to all our donors. It is a real testament to our district services and make a healthy change in your life. “Why not make World No Tobacco Day your milestone day, to remember when you quit?” Paul said. “Quitting will help you come through this uncertain time in better shape.” “If you’re working from home, why not quit from home too?

healthcare teams when our community is so eager to give back to help us continue to provide high-quality patient care and treatment.” NORTH foundation has used this information to shape their upcoming Tax Appeal and the relaunch of their grateful patient program later this year. We have a range of resources available that can help you.” For more information on how to quit visit: bit.ly/2z45Yvy. Staff can visit the intranet for help with smoking cessation and more: intranet.nslhd. health.nsw.gov.au/ClinicalNet/ healthprom/programs/Pages/ SmokeFree.aspx

Time to give up smoking From baking sourdough to jigsaw puzzles – people have developed some handy habits during lockdown, but now they are being encouraged to

kick one instead; smoking. World No Tobacco Day falls on May 31 and NSLHD’s Director of Health Promotion Paul Klarenaar said it marked the perfect opportunity to

district’s new accreditation manager NSLHD has welcomed a new accreditation manager to help hospitals and health services with meeting the national standards. Annette Penney has been appointed the National Safety and Quality Health Service Accreditation Manager, bringing a wealth of experience to the role. Annette previously worked at Marie Stopes Australia where her role was as National Quality, Safety and Risk Manager.

While at Marie Stopes, Annette successful led

accreditation assessments in relation to the National Safety and Quality Health Services (NSQHS) Standards 2nd edition and ACHS EquiP4.



Research to confirm if sense of smell linked to COVID-19 For many people with

way to combine our past expertise with new research collaborations to help solve COVID-19 related health problems for our patients and the general community.” The study team is looking to recruit patients who’ve tested positive to COVID-19 and are being monitored through the Royal North Shore Virtual Hospital or have been admitted to RNSH with mild- moderate COVID-19 illness. Members of the community who do not have Covid are also needed as part of the control group for the research. The study will involve a structured questionnaire followed by the smell test, based on the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell Identification Kit. Co-ordinated research response The study is part of a broader research approach by the Northern Sydney Local Health District COVID-19 Clinical Research Group. All major specialist disciplines are represented in the group, taking advantage of the breadth of knowledge across the health campus. Associate Professor Clifton- Bligh said we formed the group because we saw a clear need to co-ordinate our clinical research response to the COVID-19 crisis. “Our clinical researchers and scientists saw this as a way to harness our varied interests and skills in a strategic, whole- of-health service response,” he said. “The rapid evolution of the pandemic has led to new research collaborations and

COVID-19, the first sign they had the virus was a loss in their sense of smell. Now a team from the Kolling Institute and Royal North Shore Hospital will investigate the correlation between the virus and early symptoms. Study lead Associate Professor Rory Clifton- Bligh said a loss of smell has emerged as a common symptom of COVID-19 infection, but the current data is relying on subjective, self- reported information. “This study will objectively assess loss of smell with people who have tested positive to COVID-19,” said Associate Professor Clifton- Bligh, head of Endocrinology at RNSH. “We will be using a validated test kit for smell identification. Depending upon our findings, it may then be possible to develop a rapid screening test. “It’s really pleasing to be involved in such an important study, and we hope it will assist early diagnosis of the virus and future treatment options. “We hope it will potentially help a large number people across Australia.” Head of Neurogenetics and Executive Director of the Kolling Institute Professor Carolyn Sue will form part of the research team. “We have used this smell test before to assess patients with other medical conditions and found it easy to do and interpret,” she said. “This new application of the smell test is an exciting

Associate Professor Rory Clifton-Bligh

WWW.NSLHD.HEALTH.NSW.GOV.AU 11 disease specialist Dr Bernard Hudson, Professor Carolyn Sue, Professor Bruce Robinson and Professor Carol Pollock. Members of the Northern Sydney Local Health District COVID-19 Clinical Research Group include infectious partnerships, and innovative approaches to clinical trials for COVID patients and healthcare workers.” The six broad areas of focus include: • Emerging treatments for COVID-19 • Prevention of COVID-19 in high risk groups, including health care workers • Biomarker research for diagnosis and prognosis • Epidemiology of disease outbreaks in Northern Sydney Local Health District • Health services data collection and research • The impact on non- COVID-19 related activities (both in healthcare and in research)

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