NSLHD Year in Review 2019

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


Health Northern Sydney Local Health District






message FROM the Chief executive

As the year draws to a close, I would like to start by thanking all of our staff for their hard work over the past 12 months. Whenever I am in the community, I frequently hear stories from former patients and their families regarding the exceptional patient care they received at our hospitals and community health centres. These stories epitomise the pride you take every day when caring for your patients. 2019 has been a year of tremendous achievement for Northern Sydney Local Health District. Clinically, our hospitals continue to set the benchmark across NSW, with a series of strong performances in our Bureau of Health Information’s quarterly activity reports. Our outcomes for a range of diseases like pancreatic cancer remain amongst the best in the state, while our renewed focus on research, guided by our newly launched NSLHD Research Strategy, will hopefully see us continue to improve the lives of patients every day. We also held our first instalment musculoskeletal team led the way, telling of the important advances being made in the battle against arthritis and other debilitating diseases. I am looking forward to showcasing more of our clinical and research teams in future Northern Lights in the New Year. of our research showcase series Northern Lights. Our

Our infrastructure also continues to evolve with Mona Vale and Hornsby Ku-ring-gai hospitals currently undergoing redevelopments. Mona Vale’s Palliative Care and Geriatric Evaluation and Management buildings are continuing to take shape, complementing the impressive rehabilitation facilities and Urgent Care Centre on site. upgrade, which will see an expanded emergency department as well as a new multi-storey clinical services building. The new building will house expanded outpatient services, allowing patients access to more treatments, such as chemotherapy, closer to home. We have also been a part of an Australian first, establishing the Clinical Health Information Exchange. The Exchange enables the sharing of key patient information between the Electronic Medical Record systems at NSLHD and Northern Beaches Hospital. This will be a huge benefit to patients and health staff, enabling safer and more seamless access to patient information to deliver care. Workplace culture has also been a strong focus this year, with a number of initiatives, aimed at improving the wellbeing of our staff and empowering them. The Speaking Up for Safety campaign is one such initiative that is aimed at giving our Hornsby Hospital is also close to completing its $260 million

staff the skills to voice their concerns and improve patient safety. The impressive work and achievements of our staff were recognised by our peers across the state. NSLHD won two categories at the NSW Health Awards in the Transforming Patient Experience and Patient Safety First categories. Professor Margaret Fry, Director of Research and Practice Development Nursing and Midwifery, and Meredith Oatley, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, won the Transforming Patient Experience category with their Oncology Telephone Hotline. Dr Eveline Staub, Staff Specialist, Neonatology and her medical and nursing colleagues won the Patient Safety First category for their project “Walking the Milky Way”. With the holiday season approaching fast, I hope you all have some time with family and friends. I would like to thank those staff who will continue to be working over the period providing care to our patients and the community. Finally, to all staff, volunteers, patients and friends of NSLHD, I would like to wish you a happy holiday season and a safe and healthy New Year.

Deborah Willcox, Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District


message FROM the district board

This year has been an exceptional year for the District as it grows from strength to strength. It has now been one year since Northern Beaches Hospital opened and has begun to embed itself within the District. The resilience of the staff in facing the extra pressures on our health system and rising to the challenges should be commended. On behalf of the Board, I want to extend my gratitude to CE Deb Willcox, who along with the district executive, continues to shape the health district to become a leader in the state. Of course, none of the changes could occur without our staff and volunteers who do such an amazing job each and every day caring for our patients and consumers, their loved ones and the wider community. Throughout the year the District has continued to focus on research as a priority and extending that to the bedside so our patients have better outcomes. This year we saw the development of the first District Research Strategy, which will provide the direction over coming years for all of us to build on the great work that is already occurring here in research and innovation.

The District has also invested in staff wellbeing, with the formation of the JMO Wellbeing Committee, led by junior medical officers and supported by the executive and Board members. Importantly, our staff are now being trained in skills to speak out and look out for one another through the Speak Up for Safety program. I would like to thank my fellow Board members for their efforts to lead our health district into the future. We continue to visit our hospitals and services where we gain first hand perspective from our clinicians and staff of the issues they are facing and what their needs are. Finally, while you all work tremendously hard to care for our community, it is important to also care for yourself and your families. On behalf of the Board, I hope you all get to spend some time with your loved ones over the festive season, and to those who are working, thank you, and I hope you have a well-deserved break

Throughout the year the District has continued to focus on research as a priority and extending that to the bedside so our patients have better outcomes.

coming up. Best wishes

Trevor Danos AM, Chair Northern Sydney Local Health District Board


RNSH youngest volunteer

Eighteen-year-old Sam Kordi has a lot on her plate – as well as tackling her HSC this year, she became the youngest volunteer at RNSH. Caring comes naturally to Sam, who plans to follow in the footsteps of her mum, RNSH nurse Macy Panah. While Macy, who supervises patient discharges to ensure they have appropriate support when they get home, has had a varied nursing career, Sam has her sights set firmly on working as an Emergency Department nurse. As a RNSH volunteer, Sam will join an army of around 550 men and women who give up their time to help patients, visitors and staff.

What makes a good volunteer?

“I have a very big interest in helping other people. I have

watched the career of my mum and others who help people and I have been very interested in what they do,” Sam said. Macy said she was delighted Sam wanted to follow in her footsteps. Judy Hogan-Wright, acting volunteer co-ordinator for RNS and Ryde, said many volunteers had a connection to the hospitals either as former patients or as relatives, friends or neighbours of staff. Others signed up because they were studying medicine or nursing, or allied health, and wanted to gain more experience with patients. Judy estimated around a third had connections to staff, and urged staff to encourage people with time on their hands to think about volunteering this year.

“Passion,” Judy said. “You can see it in their eyes. They want to give back to the community.” At Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital, volunteer co-ordinator Marie Perkins said there are many benefits to volunteering and one is the social aspect that many of our volunteers enjoy. “Many live alone and don’t have loved ones close by, so volunteering at the hospital provides them with company and friendships.” Mona Vale Hospital volunteer co-ordinator Rosalind Mesite echoed her colleagues’ sentiments. “Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and make firm friendships while helping people at the same time”.


Ryde Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) midwives, hospital general manager Heather Gough (right) and members of the Mums @ Ryde consumer group at the celebration

Ryde midwives deliver for mums and bubs

Fifteen years of service and thousands of mothers and babies … those are the results celebrated by Rydemidwives and consumers with a special morning tea.

Ryde Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) midwives, hospital general manager Heather Gough and members of the Mums @ Ryde consumer group celebrated the milestone. Heather congratulated the midwives and highlighted the wonderful support they provide to families. Laura Dangerfield, NSLHD Divisional Nurse Manager, Division of Women’s, Children’s and Family Health acknowledged the midwives for bringing meaning, connectedness and compassion to women and families.

Consumer group representative and President of Mums @ Ryde Aiyana Schwarz said she wouldn’t have had such a great birth experience if it wasn’t for the midwives at Ryde MGP. “If you’re considering care with Ryde MPG, a message to expecting mums: you have made the right choice and know that you are in good hands,” Aiyana said.


Reaching new heights at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital

It was a sight to behold: a crane manoeuvring a tree on to the top of the six-storey Clinical Services Building at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital...

Marking a significant milestone to celebrate the completion of the structure’s highest point, the Angophora tree was craned in and witnessed by Health Minister Brad Hazzard, Member for Hornsby Matt Kean, Member for Ku-ring-gai, Alister Henskens, NSLHD CE Deb Willcox, HKH General Manager, Lee Gregory, redevelopment representatives and hospital staff. The topping out ceremony was to mark the milestone of the $265 million redevelopment project. With stunning views of the local district as the backdrop, Mr Hazzard told the gathering we promised to deliver world-class health care closer to home and soon the local community will have a range of

expanded health services in a new, state-of-the-art building. The Clinical Services Building will accommodate a combined Intensive Care and High Dependency Unit, combined respiratory and cardiac beds co-located with a Cardiac Investigations Unit, Outpatient Services, Medical Imaging, Paediatrics, Medical Assessment Unit, Transit Unit, Inpatient Units (including general medicine, stroke and dementia/delirium beds), co-located education space with the University of Sydney and retail space. On track for completion in 2021, the redevelopment also includes a refurbished and expanded Emergency Department.

The NSW Government committed in this year’s budget $65 million to fund new and expanded services including day chemotherapy, renal dialysis units and a helipad. Mr Kean said the redevelopment is a fantastic boost to the local economy. “The Hornsby Ku-ring-gai redevelopment will provide 590 full-time equivalent jobs in the construction industry and generate new jobs for health care workers in the area,” he said. The medical imaging department

is due to move into its new department later this month.

Celebrating the highest milestone


Dr Tom Hugh Snr, Professor Tom Hugh, Professor Tom Reeve, Professor Bill Walter and Dr William Walter

Royal North Shore celebrateS the opening of the Tom Reeve Academic Surgical Clinic The clinic was named in honour of Professor Tom Reeve who was the inaugural Professor of Surgery at RNSH and a previous President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

Under his leadership, Royal North Shore developed into a centre of surgical, educational and research excellence. The purpose of the clinic is to acknowledge and build upon the foundations of academic surgery that Tom Reeve created on the campus, and to provide opportunities for surgical outcomes research and clinical trials in a supportive academic environment.

Approximately 100 people attended the opening with one previous fellow in the Tom Reeve unit sending a video message which was played on the day. “The development of the clinic demonstrates a changing interest and is a green light for the future,” Tom said. “For those who wish to engage with the clinic it provides a great place to explore interests and

ideas within a reservoir of strong academic advice. “The road to success will be academically testing but all who interact with the clinic will have a great experience. They will also have the fairly onerous task of

applying for funding.” The academic clinic is a

collaborative initiative between the NSLHD, the Division of Surgery and the RNSH SERT Institute.



Principal physicist Prof Dale Bailey and physicist Kathy Willowson

A world-first trial of a next generation cancer treatment which uses a tailored dose of radioactive copper to target tumours is underway at RNSH.

The trial involves six patients suffering meningiomas - inoperable and otherwise untreatable brain tumours. They are receiving four simple injections over six months. The idea of treating cancer with radioactive copper has been discussed in scientific literature for a long time. However, it is only coming to fruition now thanks to the significant development of the technology that made it possible to securely encapsulate the isotopes of copper in a “cage” and prevent leaking into the patient’s body. This technology uses more precise molecular targeting to ensure the

treatment hits the cancerous cells while not impacting surrounding healthy cells. The new treatment approach had been developed in conjunction with Sydney biotech Clarity Pharmaceuticals and Sydney Vital, the NSW Cancer Institute’s Northern Translational Cancer Research Centre. It harnesses the precision of radiation treatment with the power of chemotherapy but without the side-effects to deliver cancer-killing radioactive copper therapy directly to diseased cells. RNSH’s principal nuclear medicine physicist, Professor Dale Bailey, said: “This technique, in effect, delivers radiotherapy from inside

the body and the new treatment plan means we are able, for the first time, to individualise each patient’s treatment by using imaging to plan their therapy. “The alternatives currently available are unable to do this. “Unlike a lot of chemotherapy, which can make patients feel unwell and cause other unwanted side-effects, this treatment minimises side-effects as it delivers an optimal therapeutic dose that targets cancer in a localised and safe manner. “This has the potential to reduce

the harmful side-effects while at the same time making the treatment more effective.”


HORSNBY Emergency Department SEES RED

Simply RRED (l-r) Bridget Jelfs, Deb Stewart, Rebecca Wilkins, Alex Nanlohy, Dr Jackie Ward

It is simple by name but Simply RRED is serious about patient safety at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Launched on Valentine’s Day with a sea of red covering the Emergency Department, Simply RRED is a multi-disciplinary designed initiative by ED nurses and doctors to formalise the clinical review process of deteriorating patients. While ED staff have always routinely reviewed deteriorating patients to prevent serious outcomes, SIMPLY RRED is about formalising the approach, with a dedicated Team RRED comprising of an Emergency Specialist, junior doctor and nurses and specific IT support. Hornsby Ku-ring-Gai Hospital’s Emergency Director Clare Skinner

deteriorating patient without first needing to discuss the case with a senior doctor. “We have always tried to review all deteriorating patients in ED but the new system will ensure we won’t miss patients who could potentially fall through the cracks,” she said. “Importantly, this creates a research and audit trail so we can see how we are tracking with reviewing unstable patients and their subsequent clinical outcomes.” A new IT system gives emergency staff the ability to document and follow-up their management of deteriorating patients which will lead to an improvement in

patient safety and avoid potentially serious outcomes. Simply RRED includes both adult and paediatric patients and is unlike other systems in place, Dr Skinner said. “Clinical wards have Between the Flags which came into effect in 2009 and looks at deteriorating patients with abnormal vital signs, and we wanted to see what formal approach we could do in ED,” she said. “This is great for Hornsby and I am really proud of what the staff have come up with as it shows the strength of our ED which works well together, both doctors and nurses.”

said Simply RRED gives junior members of staff a voice as they could raise a review of a


Like father, like son

Professor Xin-Ming Chen with his son Matthew

Kolling renal researcher Associate Professor Xin-Ming Chen used to worry that his young son Matthew resented his long hours at work. There were times when Matthew, 8, struggled to understand why his dad’s commitment to reducing the risk of kidney disease for diabetics seemed to keep him away from his family. But now, after reading Matthew’s beautiful tribute to his dad’s life-saving endeavours, Xin-Ming is thrilled his work is a source of family pride. Matthew, in Year 2 at Hornsby North Public School, is a finalist in the 5-8 year category of the annual Young Archie award, part of the Archibald Prize run by the NSW Gallery. His third Young Archie entry (his first earned an honourable mention three years ago; his second made the finals in 2017) is a stunning oil pastel of his dad at work in the lab. Matthew spent nine hours on his entry, which is one of 10 in the running to take out the prize for his age group. His entry reads: “I have drawn my dad because he is a great medical scientist and also a wonderful father. My dad’s daily job is to examine cells, a tiny world in the human body, through a microscope to

find out if cells are healthy or sick. This information is very important for medical doctors. My dad can capture any small changes in a cell with his sharp eyes. My dad told me junk food may cause damage to cells in the human body. He loves me and cares about family. I want to become a medical scientist like my daddy when I grow up.” The Young Archie portrait competition is open to artists between the ages of five and 18, and the work must be of a person who is special to you – someone who is known to you and who knows you and plays a significant role in your life.

Xin-Ming said he was delighted by Matthew’s words. “He knows I do this because I want to help patients,” he said. Xin-Ming and his team of 15 with Professor Carol Pollock are looking at ways to reduce the risk for the almost-50 per cent of Type 2 diabetics who develop kidney disease. It’s a double jeopardy which is very close to home – Xin-Ming was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2003.


NSLHD Carer Support Service manager Barbara Lewis with Carer Antoinette Nakhle

MAKING CARERS COUNT Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) makes history listing a patient’s carer status on their medical records, Chief Executive Deb Willcox has announced.

NSLHD CE Deb Willcox speaking at the launch event

As well as committing to making sure carers are properly identified in their own health care records, the strategy also ensures: › › all orientation sessions for new NSLHD staff and volunteers acknowledge the importance of identifying and engaging with carers; › › staff undertake regular, ongoing education sessions about the importance of carers; and › › annual surveys of the NSLHD workforce are undertaken to identify and support staff who are also carers. NSLHD Carer Support Service manager Barbara Lewis said the strategy would put carers front and centre of the local health service. “Our carers play a vital role in the community, and need to make sure they get the recognition and support they deserve,” she said. The new NSLHD Carer Strategy will guide the District’s carer-related responses until 2023, when it will be revised and updated.

More than 130,000 residents of NSLHD’s catchment care for another person, with more than 25,000 of them providing 24-hour care. Ms Willcox said many carers were under enormous pressure and their extra responsibilities often impacted their own health. “Making sure a patient’s carer status is captured on our records means our clinicians will be alert to any physical or mental health issues brought on by being a carer,” she said. “Importantly, this means we will also be able to make sure appropriate arrangements are made for the person for whom they care. “If a carer is out of action due to illness or injury, we will be able to ensure everything is covered, so the person they care for is looked after, and the carer has one less worry.” Ms Willcox, launching NSLHD’s second carer strategy, said the new, updated strategy was designed to ensure all NSLHD employees recognised and supported carers.

Lara Nakhle performing at the launch


Winter WATCH – watching out for patients and each other

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital staff are supporting winter watch

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital went back to basics this winter to improve patient safety during the busy period.

The new initiative targeted allied health, nursing and midwifery, and medical teams to focus on key activities that address safety and patient care which go towards reducing infection, preventing falls within the hospital, improving communication and delivering quality patient care. General Manager Lee Gregory said the hospital was undertaking a refresh of its quality and safety program during winter 2019 with the “back to basics” program entitled Winter WATCH. “The aim of Winter WATCH is to improve the delivery of safe, quality healthcare during the winter period where increased demand and risk of adverse events is higher than normal,” he said.

“During the winter WATCH program our medical, nursing and allied health staff will focus on some key activities including improved communication and interdisciplinary team work to enhance safe, quality patient centred care. Clinicians will be supported by corporate services and clinical governance to ensure a whole of hospital approach to this program.” Posters targeting the WATCH aspects for each discipline have been placed around key areas of the hospital to remind staff of what they need to, such as `wash hands’, `assess risk’ and `check catheters and cannulas’. Each year the hospital places an emphasis on winter preparedness given the increase in patient presentations.

Lee said he hoped among the many benefits of Winter WATCH there would be a reduction in adverse outcomes, decreased number of hospital-acquired infections, improved handovers, and improved communication with patients and carers regarding their care. “Winter WATCH is a simple message that says to our staff and to our patients, that our nursing, allied health and medical teams are working together to deliver high quality and safe patient care,” he said. “It also reminds our hard working

teams of some of the basic activities that can sometimes get overlooked.”


Network’s Service Development manager, Jillian Moxey and Network’s Clinical Director Dr Michelle Mulligan with booklet

My Surgery Journey booklet launch Patients undergoing surgery will be better prepared for any upcoming procedures thanks to a new booklet called My Surgery Journey .

After seeing the success the booklet had throughout Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, the Surgery and Anaesthesia Network at Northern Sydney Local Health District adopted the idea and began work on their own version of the booklet with the help of an innovation grant award. The Network’s foremost aim is to be the safest district in NSW for patients using surgery and anaesthesia services. The Network’s Service Development Manager, Jillian Moxey, has years of experience working in surgery.

She said the district-wide roll out of the My Surgery Journey booklet would make it easier for patients to prepare for their surgery. “Surgery is complex and getting ready for surgery is a very important part of the process,” she said. Extensive consultation was undertaken across the district which has resulted in a document containing valuable information from a variety of experts from across NSLHD.

The Network’s Clinical Director Dr Michelle Mulligan said the team was passionate to set a standard of consistent information across the district for staff, patients and families on their entire elective surgical journey, which starts well in advance of arriving in the hospital. “The surgery journey begins before a patient is in the theatre,’’ Dr Mulligan said. “The booklet is there to help and prepare the patient every step of the way.’’

Ryde Hosptial staff and patient Evanthia Salemis with general manager Heather Gough (far-right)


CE Deb Willcox joins the musculoskeletal team involved in the first Northern Lights Research Showcase

The latest exciting research into musculoskeletal disease was unveiled during the inaugural Northern Lights showcase. Northern Sydney leading the way with arthritis research and clinical care

In the short term however, there’ll be a greater focus on community education, including the use of regular text messages to help patients manage their conditions. The national Arthritis Biospecimens Bank - A3BC - is also being set up to identify the right treatments for patients, as well as the causes for

“We have a living lab here, developing research and incorporating it directly into clinical care, and improving the lives of those living with these diseases,” David said. “We have strong interactions with scientists and researchers as well as a great knowledge about the best care for musculoskeletal conditions.” Researchers discussed the value of medication and surgery, while focusing on the long term benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach with evidence-based strategies, such as the Osteoarthritis Chronic Care Program. Researchers also confirmed new exciting stem cell technology will be trialled over the next few years, where stem cells will be injected into problem areas to alleviate pain.

Close to 200 people attended the event in the Kolling auditorium, including clinicians, researchers and many people living with arthritic pain. RNSH Head of Rheumatology Professor Lyn March addressed the event, detailing the devastating cost of the disease to individuals and the broader community, with many sufferers forced out of the workforce prematurely. “Musculoskeletal disease is the leading cause of disability in Australia, affecting around seven million people and costing about $6 billion to the health budget,” Lyn said. “It affects men, women and children of all ages in many different ways. Every patient will have a different journey, and in many cases, a different response to individual treatments.” Rheumatology clinician researcher Professor David Hunter described how healthcare is evolving from the world leading research being undertaken within the Kolling Institute and at Royal North Shore Hospital.

arthritis and possible cures. The inaugural Northern Lights showcase is a part of a series highlighting the remarkable

advances in research and innovation across the Northern Sydney Local Health District. The next event will be held in the coming months.

Lyn March presenting at the showcase


Innovative new IT system

An innovative new IT system allows sharing of a patient’s information between a private hospital and district services for the first time in NSW. Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) in partnership with Northern Beaches Hospital and eHealth NSW have commissioned the Health Information Exchange (HIE).

“A big thank you to all staff who have helped to progress the project to this point, and to those who participated in the pilot.” The new HIE system is available to all staff who use the Electronic Medical Record (eMR) system.

The HIE allows staff working within the District and Central Coast Local Health district (CCLHD) to share the history of care provided to patients with Northern Beaches Hospital. Simon Hill, Director Information Communications and Technology for NSLHD and CCLHD said the HIE was the first IT system of its kind and the result of many months of hard work from staff. “This is a ground-breaking and innovative new IT system that has been developed to enable the two different patient record systems to

talk to each other so clinicians can easily get to the patient’s medical information,” he said. “Normally when a patient transfers between a public and private hospital the patient takes their medical records with them or they are sent manually. It will be a huge benefit to patients and health staff who have access to the medical records in real-time, enabling safer and seamless care for patients.


NSLHD CE Deb Willcox with Dignity CEO Suzanne Hopman at the NSLHD Workplace Giving Program launch

Workplace Giving Program

Northern Sydney Local Health District has partneredwith crisis support and homelessness services charity Dignity as part of the newWorkplace Giving Program.

The program allows staff to make a voluntary recurring or one off donation to the charity directly from their pay, with 100 per cent of donations used in delivering frontline services. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said she was humbled to welcome Dignity to the district. “Hearing firsthand about the work that Dignity is doing across the state, including in our LHD, highlights the need for homelessness services. It affects people from all walks of life,” she said.

“Our staff have shown their generosity with around 50 of us already signing up to support this wonderful cause.” The crowd also heard from Suzanne Hopman, the CEO and co-founder of Dignity about how the partnership will change the lives of so many for the better. “In the four years Dignity has been operating, we’ve provided 50,000 people with temporary crisis accommodation and have served more than 400,000 meals to those in need,” she said.

“I’m truly so thankful and very excited by this partnership with Northern Sydney Local Health District. “It will allow us to do even more for those who need a hot meal, a warm bed and a touch of kindness in what is a very difficult time.” Those wishing to find out more about Workplace Giving or signing up can do so by clicking the banner on the intranet. Donations start at as little as $1 a week, with one-off donations also possible.


Kolling researchers part of elite group in fight against heart disease Two Kolling Institute researchers have welcomed a significant funding boost through a large NSWGovernment program to help tackle Australia’s number one killer, heart disease.

Professors Gemma Figtree and Martin Ugander (pictured below) have each been awarded a $750,000 grant to encourage researchers to find breakthroughs and help establish NSW as a centre for research excellence. The funding is part of a broader program investing $150 million in cardiovascular research over the next 10 years. It’s hoped the cash injection will help drive scientific discoveries and develop innovative therapies for cardiovascular disease. Professor Figtree, who is an interventional cardiologist at RNSH, will look at the increasing number of people who suffer a heart attack despite not being seen as at risk.

She plans to identify new mechanisms and biological markers of both coronary artery disease susceptibility and resilience. “Cardiovascular disease is our biggest killer of both men and women and it’s not just killing us, it’s dramatically affecting our health and wellbeing,” she said. “Our goal is to improve the early identification of people with the disease, including those with risk factors and those with only minimal clues. This will greatly help us target preventative strategies.” Professor Ugander’s work will focus on MRI technology to diagnose and treat heart failure patients who are difficult to identify and currently lack treatment. This includes those

with heart failure due to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. He will also evaluate new surgical treatment to improve the efficiency of the heart by reducing the size of the left atrium of the heart. “Having recently arrived in Australia from Sweden, this funding will be instrumental in building our cardiac MRI research group, and training the next generation of cardiovascular researchers in NSW.” he said. “The grant will help provide important data on the ability of MRI to accurately identify disease in patients with suspected heart disease.”

Professor Gemma Figtree

Professor Martin Ugander


Exceptional People Awards 2019

Connected Person-Centred Care Presented by Professor Mary Chiarella

Healthy Communities Presented by Professor Mary Chiarella

Individual Award: Joint Winner Alison Hession, clinical nurse consultant, Palliative Care at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital

Individual Award: Joint Winner: Meaghan Jacob, registered nurse, Northern Sydney Home Nursing Service, Primary and Community Health

Individual Award Dr David Lillystone, senior paediatrician, Primary and Community Health (PaCH)

Team Award Graythwaite 5, Ryde Hospital

ConsumerNominated Individual Award Michelle Noon, stomal therapy nurse at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital

Consumer Nominated Team Award Intensive Care Unit, Royal North Shore Hospital

Evidence-Based Decision Making Presented Dr Donna Lynch, Board Member

Engaged and Empowered Workforce Presented by Dr Donna Lynch, Board Member

Winner Chronic Disease Community Rehabilitation Service

Individual Award Tim Yi, senior clinical pharmacist, Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Hospital

Team Award Vascular Access Service, Royal North Shore Hospital


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the NSLHD Exceptional People Awards 2019. You are all truly exceptional and it’s great to see you recognised for the difference you make in people’s lives every day.

CORE Values and Behaviours (Collaboration, Openess, Respect and Empowerment) Presented by Trevor Danos AM, Board Chair

Responsive and Adaptable Organisation Presented by Dr Donna Lynch, Board Member

Individual Award Peter Woollett, exercise physiologist, Ryde Community Mental Health Service and Macquarie Hospital

Staff Award Rick Soars, wardsperson, Mona Vale Hospital

Consumer Nominated Team Award Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital

Leadership Presented by CE Deb Willcox

The glittering event at Kirribilli Club was held to formally recognise and thank staff for the incredible work they do every day. The awards were created to identify and celebrate staff who have demonstrated the meaning of the CORE Values and Behaviour Charter. For more information about the nominees and winners visit: bit.ly/2Jp1Jvl

Joint Winner: Matt Svenson, manager, Engineering Department, Ryde Hospital

Joint Winner: Marija Separovich, nurse unit manager, RNSH Emergency Department

Chief Executive Award Presented by CE Deb Willcox

Dr Marty Sterrett, emergency medicine physician and the chief medical information officer, for the Northern Sydney Local Health District.


Minister Hazzard surveys the work being done in Nuclear Imaging

Health Minister goes behind the scenes at Royal North Shore The Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard covered plenty of ground when he visited Royal North Shore Hospital, learning about the latest advances in nuclear medicine and clinical genetics.

In nuclear medicine, Head of Department Professor Paul Roach gave the Minister a tour of the facilities while talking about some of the excellent work being done with Lutate therapy. From there the Minister attended a presentation from the Clinical Genetics team along with representatives from the Children’s Tumour Foundation. The team spoke about its ongoing efforts to combat neurofibromatosis (NF). Clinical Associate Professor Yemima Berman also showed the Minister how the department

uses lasers to help NF and Schwannomatosis patients.


2019 NSW Health Award WINNERS AND finalists Northern Sydney LHD had four teams in the running for top honour at the NSWHealth Awards.

The finalists for this year’s NSW Health Awards were recently announced. Every year the NSW Health Awards acknowledge the excellent work being done across our state in healthcare. The field of applicants is always strong and to be selected as a finalist is a great achievement.

All entries demonstrated a depth of commitment and should be congratulated for their contribution to NSW Health. The NSW Health Awards provide a unique opportunity to recognise and reward innovative programs, behaviours and services provided by the organisations that comprise NSW Health. The categories are based on NSW Health’s Strategic Priorities and CORE values.



Meredith Oatley and Professor Marg Fry for their entry Oncology Telephone Hotline, named in the Transforming Patient Experience category

Pavin Govinda and Laura Brain for their entry Contagious Innovation—Fighting Influenza with FluPortal, nominated in the Safe and Healthy Workplace category



Dr Eveline Staub and colleagues for their entry Walking the Milky Way, nominated in the Patient Safety First category.

Dr Sarah Hilmer for her entry Electronic Support for Medication Review in Older People, nominated in the Health Research and Innovation category.

Awards were announced on Thursday 10 October 2019. Congratulations again to all. Further information can be found on the NSW Health website: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/innovation/2019awards/Pages/finalists.aspx


district launches research strategy

Dr Craig Willers, Dr Mimi Berman, Deb Willcox and Gilbert Lorquet

Research and innovation took centre stage when NSLHD launched its first ever Research Strategy.

The plan, which covers the years 2019-2024, was the result of extensive consultation between experts from across the district. Research strategy and partnerships manager Rebeka Tennent helped drive the process, which was made a priority by Chief Executive Deb Willcox. “This strategy is the culmination of almost a year of consultation,” she said. “We gathered the thoughts and opinions of more than 200 stakeholders throughout the district, including researchers, consumers, executive and our community.

“It will build on the existing foundation of research excellence to deliver a targeted, inclusive and coherent plan for research over the next five years.” Deb thanked the staff and consumer representatives involved for their time and expertise, saying it would ultimately benefit everyone, especially patients. “I am confident it will deliver on our goal of being a high-performing research organisation that provides best practice healthcare and improves the wellbeing of our community, today and into the future,” she said. For more information, visit bit.ly/2mpwust

“We held several workshops, undertook surveys and eventually sent a draft strategy out for comment.” Rebeka said the completed plan was testament to the district’s drive to improve its efforts in research across the board. “It is indicative of the commitment of the district to improve the health and wellbeing of our community through ensuring healthcare

is underpinned by research,” she said.


Celebrations for the birthday were held in the chapel at Macquarie Hospital.

Macquarie celebrates 60 years A wonderful day was had by guests, staff and consumers who attended the 60th birthday celebrations of Macquarie Hospital. More than 100 people turned out for the festivities which involved a service in the chapel, led by consumers who gave readings, lit candles and sang hymns. Special guests included former Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Chief Executive John Watkins (AM) as well as NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox. A newly landscaped tranquillity garden was unveiled where people can sit and enjoy a quiet moment while on the campus.

Former NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir and consumer Kathy McDonald.

Deb Willcox, Susanne Russell and Maureen Fechter.


NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox, Dr Brendan Steinfort, NORTH Foundation CEO Gilbert Lorquet, patient Penny Clarke and Foundation Board Chair Greg Isaacs

new direction as north foundation launches

The NORTH Foundation has been officially launched with a bold vision to enhance healthcare services across the district and increase investment in world-leading medical research.

Formerly the Kolling Foundation, the NORTH Foundation is the fundraising partner for the hospitals and services of NSLHD and the Kolling Institute of Medical Research. Chief Executive Officer Gilbert Lorquet has unveiled the foundation’s new look and five-year plan to bolster healthcare services across the district. “With the help of generous donors, corporate partners and community support, we will be well placed to enhance services, provide additional equipment and increase our investment in cutting edge research,” he said.

“We are committed to becoming a major contributor to world class medical research and strengthening a community health system where people enjoy excellent care throughout their lives.” NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said the NORTH Foundation will play a key role in broadening community awareness of our services and impressive staff. “A greater understanding of what we do and our unique strengths will help the foundation meet its goals. I encourage all our staff to take the opportunity to talk with patients about the role of the foundation,” Deb said.

Patient Penny Clarke also addressed the official launch, sharing her recent experience at RNSH. Penny suffered a stroke after an international flight where she slept in an uncomfortable position and dissected an artery. “I’m tremendously grateful for the specialised care I received and the quality of life I now have after the stroke,” Penny said. “I have fully recovered and I’m able to enjoy so many things. I would urge everyone to support the foundation and help boost the health services within the district.”


DIGITAL CLINIC REVOLUTIONISING HEALTHCARE Taking days off to visit the doctor is a reality for any transplant recipient, but a new telehealth system debuting at Royal North Shore Hospital means days off could be a thing of the past.

An initiative of the renal transplant team led by Dr Stella McGinn, the online clinic using the Pexip platform has been a hit with both patients and physicians. “Regular check-ups for transplant recipients are a fact of life, but as people get older, move away, have kids or get new jobs, making it to these appointments can be hard,” she said. “We develop lifelong relationships and bonds with our patients, so it’s always ideal to keep them in our care. “The use of online clinics for the right patients is a good way to reduce impact on their lives while making sure they are still in the best of health.” Mother of two Linda Fletcher is one of those benefitting from the telehealth clinics. The clinical research trainer has had two kidney transplants, the most recent coming in 2003, and still needs an appointment to monitor her progress every three months. “It’s great because there is not much disruption to our routine. I’ve got young boys and I work so being able to have my appointment from the comfort of my own home is ideal, not just for me but my family as well,” she said. “Going to the appointments takes a fair bit of scheduling, my husband sometimes has to book leave and I have to travel about five hours by train from Winmalee in the Blue Mountains.

“I can usually work from the train when I travel to my appointments but this way I can still make it in time for pick up.” The 47-year-old had her first online appointment last month and plans to continue to use the service going forward. “It was a little bit different, but it went really well – I didn’t feel like I missed out at all,” Ms Fletcher said. “I set myself up at my computer at home, but I know I can also use my phone or laptop. The program used for the appointment is fairly straight forward and intuitive, but of course that depends on the person.

“It gives you freedom, it’s a great service.”

Dr McGinn said even patients requiring blood tests and other pathology could arrange to do so through their local GP, with results being shared with the clinic at Royal North Shore. “Of course some patients will need to come in for a physical and others will want to keep coming to see us in person as they have always done,” she said. “But this is a great option for some patients so they can get back to living their life post-transplant with as little disruption as possible.”

Dr Stella McGinn



When Pos Simson first signed up to be a mentor in the Tibetan Mentoring Program, she hoped she would get to help someone; little did she know they would end up helping her too.

The program, which is run by Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Multicultural Health Service, pairs a Beaches-based mentor with a Tibetan refugee to help them become accustomed to life in Australia. That’s when Pos met Tenpa Chomphel. “Essentially I inherited a second family when I met Tenpa,” she said. “I’ve helped Tenpa, his wife and kids family with things like appointments and paperwork, and he’s helped me as well. Tenpa was a former carpenter for the Dalai Lama and he has helped me at my home with carpentry needs, plus he keeps my knives sharp.” The mentorship started in 2016 and was supposed to last six months, but three years later – the pair are still friends and Pos is continuing to learn from her new mate. “Tenpa doesn’t speak much English but we communicate perfectly, just not through language,” Pos said. “Being immersed into Tibetan culture has been fascinating. Tenpa is a practising Buddhist and plays traditional Tibetan music and instruments, which he has

“Pos is like a sister to me. She is also like family to my wife and children. I am so grateful for the help she has given me. I will always be praying for her health and prosperity,” he said. “Pos has explained important things about Australian culture such as the need to arrive on time at appointments. She has helped me understand when to take medications, different foods and what foods are best to eat. I have learnt a lot from Pos about how to stay healthy.

understand many things and has helped my family settle in Australia.” People interested in becoming a mentor can undertake a free training program in Brookvale. Cathy Butler, NSLHD’s Multicultural Health Service manager, said many Tibetans had arrived in the last 18 months and they were eager to be linked with a mentor, share their culture and have an Australian friend. Further details on the program are available from Cathy on 0421 610 610 or cathy.butler@health.nsw.gov.au

“The mentor program is very important. It has helped me

Tibetan mentoring program participant Tenpa Chomphel

performed across Sydney.” Tenpa moved to Australia in

2014 and now lives in Dee Why. Through an interpreter, he said he was grateful for everything Pos had done.



“Asking the question allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples access to a range of specialist services such as Bungee Bidgel, our Aboriginal health clinic at Hornsby, mental health services, or to receive more appropriately tailored care in the hospital environment.” The animation, which will be used in staff orientation and training as well as in public areas throughout the district, was produced in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Director of Mental Health Drug and Alcohol for NSLHD Andrea Taylor said she hoped the resource would encourage everyone to ask the question and feel confident in identifying their culture. “These resources are an inclusive way to remind everyone of the benefits that asking the question can have for people when they present for care,” she said. “When we include culture in care, it can significantly enhance the healthcare experience and potentially go on to improve healthcare outcomes.” Director of Aboriginal Health Peter Shine welcomed the new resource as efforts ramp up to encourage people to identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“Hopefully through this campaign we’ll see a culture change where all staff ask the question, but we also want people to feel empowered to say ‘I am Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander’ if they aren’t asked,” he said. “The correct identification means not only will they get culturally respectful care but also medically relevant care throughout the district.”

to deliver culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been unveiled by Northern Sydney Local Health District. The Ask the Question animation is a video aimed at encouraging all staff across NSLHD to understand the importance of identification of consumers and clients of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. It’s all a part of the District’s Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol team’s efforts with assistance from the Aboriginal Health Unit to understand the importance of asking the question as it is medically relevant. NSLHD Clinical Lead for Aboriginal Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Michelle Lawrence led the campaign with the aim of increasing the amount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people identifying within the NSLHD. “The omission of culture in providing care can leave our people feeling disrespected and without adequate support, which means they are less likely to seek future treatment,” she said.


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