NSLHD News October 29 2021

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


Main story Short blurb generous donation during mental health awareness month Colourful caps are cheering up RNSH operating theatre staff and patients at Northern Sydney Cancer Centre Read more on Page 7 Read more on Page x

top award for rnsh emergency department Page 3

research: home-delivered alcohol and underage drinking Page 6


Message from the Chief Executive Deb Willcox

It has been so wonderful to see our community return to a life outside of COVID-19 restrictions, while also maintaining those all-important COVID-safe behaviours. Chatting to those of you I have seen, it has been great to hear many of you have been able to see loved ones and spend your time away enjoying usual activities. Part of that return to normality has been some relaxation in our visitor policy, allowing up to two visitors per patient per day - so long as they are fully vaccinated and wear a surgical mask. I know for many of you, it was challenging looking after your patients’ health and wellbeing while their loved ones could not come and visit; but feedback on the new rules has been very positive and I know our community is grateful for all of your efforts. Thankfully, COVID-19 case numbers in the NSW community, especially northern Sydney, remain stable, with high vaccination rates meaning people are largely avoiding hospitalisation and our ICUs. Staff understandably have questions about third doses of COVID-19 vaccine and the government has made a number of announcements about this. Our operations team is working hard to make sure our healthcare staff and immunocompromised people have timely and easy access to their third dose. I will keep you updated as more information becomes available and will have experts attend one of our regular live CE updates to answer all of your questions.

normal, one that will return later than planned is the Exceptional People Awards, which has been postponed until February 25 next year. While it is disappointing we have to wait a little longer to get together, it does hopefully mean we can invite as many of those nominated as possible to the event and celebrate your excellent work. All of the nominations already received will carry over to next year and further information on submitting additional nominations will be made available in January. Finally, I want to say a huge congratulations to the Royal North Shore Hospital Emergency Department, which has been announced as the 2021 Australasian Emergency Department of the Year by the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia. The ED team at RNS has played a crucial role throughout the pandemic, while also piloting a domestic and family violence routine screening project with the NSW Ministry of Health and University of Melbourne and maintaining its stellar commitment to staff development and education during challenging times. Congratulations to each and every one of you on this award.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District

While lots of activities have returned to



(Left to right): Lyn Saul, Director Clinical Services, Mt Wilga, Helma, Registered Nurse, Mt Wilga, Lorrie Mohsen, CEO, Mt Wilga, Dr Cesar Uy and Dr Shanta Ladchumanan from Hornsby Hospital

Hornsby receives a helping hand Neighbouring private hospital Mt Wilga has recently been helping its public colleagues

24 patients who had to be moved from Hornsby Hospital. Hornsby Hospital Acting General Manager Simon Hill thanked the Mt Wilga team for its ollaboration during the pandemic. “The feedback from patients and families, and the staff involved in the transfer care to Mt Wilga hospital has been very positive and we greatly appreciate the support that’s been provided,” Simon said. Many private hospitals and clinics have assisted in the NSW Health response to

COVID-19. Mt Wilga is one of many facilities in the Northern Sydney Local Health District which has helped with surgery, caring for staff or providing nurses and physicians to assist in vaccination centres. Mt Wilga Chief Executive Officer Lorrie Mohsen said: “The collaboration between the private and public teams has been excellent and has allowed us to not only care for patients in need, but also help relieve the burden on our community’s public health system at a time when it is needed most.”

at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mt Wilga Private Rehabilitation Hospital has been caring for public patients who’ve been transferred from Hornsby, which was reconfigured to accommodate an expected increase in COVID-19 patients. The Kevin Betts ward at Mt Wilga Private was dedicated to public patients and has already treated more than Top gong for RNS emergency Royal North Shore Hospital’s Emergency Department has claimed the 2021 Australasian Emergency Department of the Year Award at the recent College of Emergency Nursing Australasia awards. Royal North Shore Hospital’s General Manager Alison Emergency Department team after winning CENA’s ED of the Year,” she said. “Our district and state is full of exceptional emergency departments, let alone all of Australasia, so it really is a huge honour to take out this Zecchin said she was delighted for the team. “I am very proud of the

Staff at RNSH’s emergency department

award. Alison said it was a feather in the cap for a team that had embraced the extra responsibilities that had come its way. “It has been a tough 18 months or so for all of health, especially for emergency departments who have been under a lot of pressure during the pandemic. Not only have they kept us and our patients

safe, they have also had time to take part in the important domestic and family violence pilot, and played an integral role in our hospital being named in the top 10 performing hospitals by the Australia and New Zealand Hip Fracture Registry. “Our ED team has always been incredible, and I would like to say a huge congratulations to them on this wonderful achievement.”



Talented, young Kolling researcher takes out prestigious national award Despite a tremendously

competitive field, the Kolling Institute’s Dylan Ashton has won the 2021 Cooperative Research Australia Early Career Research competition. Dylan is part of the team investigating the effectiveness of kangaroo tendons to treat ACL injuries. He has worked on the project for several years and has welcomed the announcement. “I am extremely thankful for Cooperative Research Australia’s efforts to link universities and industry to drive innovation and stimulate research and development,” he said. “I have always been passionate about translatable research, and I think universities and industry have a lot to offer each other. “I’m very grateful to have been able to compete in this year’s early career research competition and delighted to have won. “This however, has always been a team effort and I could not have achieved anything without the ongoing support, encouragement and wisdom of my supervisors A/ Professor Elizabeth Clarke, Professor Christopher Little and Dr Carina Blaker.” As the Director of the Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Laboratory, A/Professor Clarke said Dylan’s award represents a significant

Kolling researcher Dylan Ashton

achievement. “This prestigious award is a great opportunity to recognise the research achievements of our rising stars and to highlight the fantastic, industry-linked, translational musculoskeletal research underway at the Kolling Institute,” she said. The award will also highlight the research assessing the suitability of kangaroo tendons to treat ACL injuries. “As a sport loving country, Australia is seeing a consistent rise in the number of ACL injuries, particularly in children between 5 and 14 years, and a rise in surgical reconstructions,” Dylan said. “If you were to rupture your ACL today, your surgeon would source a tendon from

either your own leg or a tissue donor.

“However, each has inherent limitations which has driven research into alternative graft sources. “Off-the-shelf synthetic grafts aim to address these issues but release synthetic particles which can lead to spontaneous failure. “Our team is working with orthopaedic company Bone Ligament Tendon to develop a natural graft using kangaroo tendon which is superior, environmentally sustainable and uniquely Australian. “We have welcomed the opportunity to discuss this important program of research.”


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



Health promotion staff Arlita and Kara have been deployed to assist the NSLHD COVID-19 contact tracing team

Making the Call Meet the latest recruits to NSLHD’s COVID-19 contact tracing team. Arlita and Kara (pictured) are just two of 17 health promotion staff who have been deployed to the cause. In recent months the health promotion team has been busy adapting existing programs and creating new ways to support the health and wellbeing of the community during lockdown. But when the call came from the Public Health Unit to work on the COVID ‘front line’ they overwhelmingly put their hands up. Health Promotion Director hospital-wide clinician and coder education of good documentation practices as it is rolled out over the next 12 months. Clinical documentation is a key component to optimal patient care and financial reimbursement and relies on staff accurately documenting all aspects of the care provided to patients during an admitted episode of care. Three members of the coding team, Christine Senior, Wending Zhang and Svetlana Ilin have received further training to become clinical documentation specialists (CDS).

Paul Klarenaar said: “Contact tracing is a crucial part of our health system response to COVID. “It is an exhausting process but our Health Promotion team have been very willing to join colleagues from across the LHD to help limit the spread of COVID. “Ultimately it has been a rewarding experience for the team.” Public Health Unit contact tracing lead Rachel Wilkins has appreciated the extra hands on deck and also the positive attitude shown by the team.

“The delightful attitude of the staff has really contributed to the team spirit in the Public Health Unit,” Rachel said. “We also appreciate the distance support and work the service is doing to keep Health Promotion afloat with so many staff absent.” Lower COVID-19 positive case numbers and the easing of restrictions means the Health Promotion team can look forward to getting back to what they do best – working face-to-face with local government, schools and the community to keep the whole population healthy. importance of accurate documentation skills ahead of Clinical Documentation Week, which will run from 15 to 19 November. Health Information Services will present a number of live and pre-recorded sessions as part of the week, covering a variety of topics, with a focus this year on documenting during a pandemic. All staff are welcome to attend. Sessions can be booked via My Health Learning, with details on available sessions found here. If you would like more information, please email NSLHD-HIS-INTAKE@health. nsw.gov.au.

New specialists aiming to enhance clinical documentation A new clinical documentation program will aim to provide As part of this program, the trio are working closely with 16 medical

and surgical specialties to improve the quality of their documentation, consulting with the clinicians to clarify the diagnoses and procedures that have not been accurately or clearly documented. In just one month, the CDS’s reviewed 250 documents and found close to 60 instances of unclear documentation which would have result in $550,000 of possible financial reimbursement that had not been captured initially. Staff are being encouraged to learn about the



home-delivered alcohol boom opens door to underage drinking Researchers from NSLHD Health Promotion have found

a rapid expansion in online liquor delivery services is making it easier for minors to obtain alcohol, due to regulatory loopholes and non-compliance with legal requirements. The team’s research found the number of online liquor licences in NSW increased five-fold from 2010 to 2018, reflecting a broader trend towards home delivery of alcohol that has only been further fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Recently published by the Sax Institute’s Public Health Research and Practice journal, the research looks at whether online alcohol delivery services operating during 2018 in NSW were compliant with regulations and adopted safeguards relating to underage access to alcohol. NSLHD Director of Health Promotion Paul Klarenaar said they reviewed legal safeguards in NSW around underage access to alcohol, identifying several areas where the requirements were more ambiguous or less restrictive for holders of online liquor licences, compared with physical outlets such as bottle shops. “Our findings informed the drafting of new amendments to tighten controls around same-day alcohol delivery, have been selected to pilot the new state-wide clinical trial management system (CTMS). A CTMS is software that supports the delivery of clinical trials. The district will work with the software provider, Advarra (formerly BioOptronics),

(Left to right): Health promotion staff involved in the research - Paul Klarenaar, Melissa Palermo, Jono Noyes and Arlita Willman

which came into force in NSW earlier this year,” he said. “These include prohibition of same-day deliveries being left unattended; mandating age verification at both the point of purchase and delivery; and requiring all same-day delivery drivers to undertake responsible delivery of alcohol training.” “However there remain gaps in the legal safeguards preventing minors from ordering alcohol online, particularly as the new amendments only regulate same-day deliveries.” The research found 60 per cent of services did not comply with the legal requirement to ensure purchasers provided their date of birth to confirm they were over 18 years and only 22 per cent of services specified on their website that someone over 18 had to the Ministry of Health and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, the second pilot site, over the coming months to trial and implement this system across the district. Regular webinars and training sessions will be held over the coming months, with dedicated support provided across all our facilities prior

accept the delivery. Paul said the need for tighter regulation of online liquor supply extends well beyond NSW. “Evidence is emerging, internationally and nationally, that growth in online liquor licences has been accompanied by increased risk of supply to young people,” he said. “Alcohol is one of Australia’s leading causes of drug-related death and was a contributing factor in 4,186 deaths in 2017. “Since 2015, the proportion of people in NSW aged 16 years or over drinking at levels posing long-term risk to health has been increasing, which has coincided with a spike in alcohol-attributable hospitalisations in NSW.” For more information on the research visit https://nshp. com.au/OLGA to the implementation of the new system. Any staff involved in clinical trials can attend a webinar hosted by NSW Health on Wednesday, 3 November at 2pm. Register here: https:// ohmrredcap.health.nsw. gov.au/?s=CJNTMTHXNW- CLK9AM

NSLHD to pilot new state-wide clinical trials system Northern Sydney Local Health District is one of two sites that



New test for high blood pressure to save lives Researchers and clinicians at RNSH have welcomed Federal Government funding to improve the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure. The condition affects around one in three people in Australia, significantly test to confirm the diagnosis of hypertension. It involves wearing a device which can monitor blood pressure continuously over 24 hours, rather than the snapshot generally provided by GP blood pressure monitoring.

increasing the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease. Men are more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, with 1 in 4 men suffering untreated high blood pressure, compared to 1 in 5 women. Many people don’t experience any symptoms and don’t realise they have the condition, raising their chances of serious illness. From next month however, the community will have donated to Royal North Shore Hospital’s cancer centre and operating theatre as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. Non-profit Buddhist charity Tzu Chi Foundation donated the range of handmade items for patients and staff to help try and lift their spirits and raise awareness of mental health. Cansupport Coordinator Tamara Doria said the donation was much appreciated by patients and staff. “Staff at the cancer centre are most grateful for the ear savers – they certainly relieve pressure from masks in these difficult working times,” she said.

Senior hospital scientist within the Department of Cardiology and Kolling researcher Dr Anastasia Mihailidou has welcomed the announcement. As one of the initiating members of a select committee of the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia, Dr Mihailidou advocated for greater access to ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.

Senior hospital scientist within the Department of Cardiology and Kolling researcher Dr Anastasia Mihailidou

“Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is the gold standard diagnostic test for improving the diagnosis of hypertension and much better than in-clinic blood pressure measurement,” she said. “I am delighted this important step has been taken and grateful that Health Minister Greg Hunt has recognised our

greater access to ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, regarded as the best available work on the committee.” It’s anticipated more than 400,000 people will benefit from the improved testing over the next 12 months. gENEROUS DONATION DURING MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH Colourful caps, bags and ear savers, to relieve pressure from masks, have been She has backed the listing of the test on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, saying it’s an important milestone in tackling the silent killer of high blood pressure and hypertension.

Cansupport Coordinator Tamara Doria and Sharon from Tzu Chi Foundation

“The colourful caps make such an impact on our patients’ wellbeing, helping them through what is normally such a difficult time but especially over these past 18 months. “The chemo or drain carry bags support patients to continue their treatment outside of the hospital whilst ensuring their dignity and privacy by having the choice of such lovely designs. “Both our outpatients and inpatients love them – we

can’t thank the Tzu Chi Foundation enough for their generous donations.” Clinical nurse consultant at RNSH’s operating suite Rebecca Fox said: “ When the beautiful and colourful caps were donated to RNSH’s Operating Theatres during busy COVID-19 times, there was much excitement.” “The nurses were thrilled to have been gifted new cloth theatre caps – thank you so much.”




DIGNITY NSLHD's Workplace Giving charity partner, Dignity aims to empower people experiencing homelessness. Please join us this Christmas to bring cheer to vulnerable families in our community by donating to our hamper drive.

2021 CHRISTMAS HAMPER DRIVE The following items will make a significant difference this Christmas:

Men's, women's and children's socks and undies. Children's new summer clothes and sleepwear in assorted sizes. Men's and women's new summer clothes and sleepwear assorted sizes. Non-perishable foods such as pasta, pasta sauce, noodles, cereal, rice, spreads, Christmas cake, soft drink, long life milk, coffee, sugar and biscuits.

Please ensure all items are within use by/ best before date. Donations can be placed under the Christmas tree. Collections close Friday November 26 2021.

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