NSLHD News February 17 2023

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


Main story Mona vale welcomes intern doctors The graduates were welcomed by Interim Chief Executive Lee Gregory as they begin their program. Page 3 Short blurb Read more on Page x

The clinic helping cancer patients navigate their treatment Page 5

Young researchers receive travel Opportunities Page 7


I’d like to take this opportunity in my first newsletter column of the year to welcome everyone back for 2023. I am so excited about all the great things planned for our district this year, and we are already off to a wonderful start. In the last couple of weeks, it has been a great pleasure to visit staff working across our sites at Mona Vale Hospital, Brookvale Community Health Centre and Dalwood. I also enjoyed welcoming some of the 92 intern doctors who have started their medical careers at Northern Sydney Local Health District. Most recently I met some of our newest doctors at Mona Vale Hospital who will spend their first term working across the Assessment and Rehabilitation Unit and Beachside Rehabilitation Unit. It was very pleasing to meet every one of you, and I hope the education, training and wellbeing support we provide as a district can provide a great foundation for all of your careers. Soon we will also welcome the first intake of the 2023 cohort of graduate nurses and midwives who will be starting with us next week. Twenty graduate nurses will have their orientation before they commence their roles working across Royal North Shore Hospital’s intensive care unit, perioperative and neonatal intensive care units. This is an exciting time for our newest nurses and medical staff as they embark on their careers with us. It was great to have the opportunity to attend the first Kolling Institute Town Hall for the year and to hear about the high-quality research underway, particularly focusing on kidney disease, diabetes and obesity. Kolling Academic Director Professor Jim Elliott outlined the key priorities for the year, while Professor Robyn Ward, the Executive Dean and

Pro Vice-Chancellor of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney discussed the broader Northern Health Precinct and Camperdown plans. Last year we ran our People Matter Employee Survey (PMES) and received some extremely valuable feedback from our staff. I am pleased to report that the district has developed site and service-specific action plans based on your feedback at each of our hospitals and services across the district. You can read more about these plans and how they will benefit staff on page six of this newsletter. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete this important survey. The Exceptional People Awards is coming up very soon on 9 March, and I am very much looking forward to attending this important event. I would like to pass on my best wishes to the 46 individual nominations and 19 team nominations that we received across the district. It is so pleasing to have received so many fantastic nominations and it makes me incredibly proud to work as part of an organisation that acknowledges the wonderful work of staff across the district.

Lee Gregory I/Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Hornsby student midwives with mum Nika who is expecting her second child

Student midwives giving Hornsby families extra choices A unique program led by student midwives is giving expectant women more choice in their care options at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital.

she said. Gaby and her colleague Emma Roberts run their own clinics with the women every Friday as part of their placement to meet the minimum number of women, about 10, they must provide continuity of care to in a year. They share on-call and attend the women’s births in their spare time, even though it is not a requirement. “We learn from the mums and the mums learn from us,” said Emma. “I really appreciate the relationship with the rest of the SWIM team: we collaborate as a team. The rapport we build with the mothers.” Mum Nika is pregnant with her second child, due in May, and is full of praise for the program. “In this program, I see the same midwife, familiar faces and this makes me feel more comfortable, more confident and more involved,” she said. The program has been running at Hornsby since 2007. “It is a beautiful place to work by the beach, with a strong culture of teamwork within the staff with a focus on holistic care of our patients,” Christina said. “I’m placed at beachside rehabilitation centre, which mostly deals with stroke victims and amputees. “Recovery is often slow, but patients leave feeling more confident in their abilities and strength and it’s been a pleasure to both be a part of and a witness to their journeys.”

The Students with Women Innovative Model with Midwifery Education (SWIM) program is the only one of its kind in the district and enables women to receive continuity of care throughout their pregnancy. The SWIM clinic is run by student midwives who provide antenatal care with the supervision of a senior midwife. The small team care for the women and share an on- call roster to attend the birth, in addition to a midwife and medical team. In return, women receive continuity of care by the same midwives, longer appointments with the midwife, and receive care from both the student and a senior midwife through their pregnancy, birth and post-birth. Student midwife Gaby Sposari said the program allowed her to create a special bond with the families, as well as other midwives. “It is such a privilege to be part of a woman and her family’s special moment in their life,”

MONA VALE WELCOMES INTERN DOCTORS Interim Chief Executive Lee Gregory visited Mona Vale Hospital earlier this month and got the chance to meet the hospital’s two new intern doctors.

Recent medical graduates Lauren Wilson and Christina Kim (see front page) have started their first term in their intern program working in Mona Vale’s Assessment and Rehabilitation Unit and Beachside Rehabilitation Unit. Christina said her experience so far at Mona Vale had been memorable start to the beginning of her career.



RNSH NICU baby experiencing life as a medical student Twenty-four years after being in the RNSH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as a newborn, medical student Zoe Thompson has found herself back in NICU again. This time not as a patient but as a trainee

all of our staff members,” he said. “Discovering that Zoe completed a rotation as a student in the NICU at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre gave the whole team a boost knowing that we did well in helping Zoe and her parents through those initial difficult days,” he said. “Many of our dedicated staff who were working back when Zoe was born, are still saving babies almost 25 years later and our skills and equipment have rapidly improved allowing us to look after sicker babies often born more than four months early.”

doctor on rotation in the NICU at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre as part of her medical degree at the University of Toronto. Zoe was born in 1998 at 33 weeks old and was diagnosed with Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome shortly after birth. Zoe received care at the RNSH NICU for over a month before returning home. In the midst of what is a difficult experience for any parent, Zoe’s mother Sarah Verne said the care Zoe received during their stay was second to none. “We had wonderful care during her stay in the NICU and some very much appreciated parenting and baby care ‘lessons’ as Zoe was our first born,” she said. “We were so grateful for everything the unit did and attended the Christmas reunion parties for a couple of years afterwards.” Zoe said the stories her mum told her about the NICU inspired her to work with families in a similar position. “My mum always told stories of what it was like in the NICU and I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to support families from the other end,” she said. “I’ve also volunteered in the SickKids NICU in Toronto and loved the environment.” Martin Kluckow was one of Zoe’s doctors when she was in the NICU and is still working there today. Martin said stories like Zoe’s make treating babies in the NICU very rewarding. “Hearing stories like Zoe’s is very uplifting for

Zoe Thompson recently found herself completing a rotation in the NICU at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

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The clinic helping cancer patients navigate their treatment The Symptom Urgent Review Clinic (SURC)

because there wasn’t an alternative model of care to manage symptoms from cancer treatment,” she said. “The aim of the SURC is to give patients a place to go for assessment of symptoms. “The new model of care has provided a pathway for patients and their carers to navigate their treatment.” Meredith said patients are often referred to the clinic from the cancer helpline. “Patients that call the cancer helpline are triaged and can be referred to the clinic for assessment and management of their symptoms,” she said. “Patients can also self-refer to the clinic by calling the cancer helpline for an appointment.” The SURC operates within the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre and is open Monday to Friday from 8am – 3pm daily. use one. Many staff reported they were unaware when they should provide an interpreter and whose responsibility it was to organise one,” she said. The poster and tent cards are designed to be placed in high-traffic areas like waiting rooms, lifts, nurses’ stations, and reception desks. The videos will be distributed digitally as part of staff training and orientation, on electronic notice boards in waiting areas and via social media and email networks to consumers.

is helping medical oncology patients, undergoing cancer treatment across the district, navigate their cancer treatment. The SURC operates alongside the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre Cancer Helpline and is operated by an experienced medical oncology nurse practitioner who assesses, diagnoses and manages a variety of medical complications that may arise during cancer treatment. The clinic has operated since 2018 and has received continual positive feedback from patients who use the service. Nurse Practitioner Meredith Oatley (pictured on front cover), who helps run the clinic, said the SURC increases the likelihood of early treatment intervention for patients as well as reducing emergency department (ED) presentations. “In the past patients would present to EDs

New Health Care Interpreter Resources Launched The Multicultural Health Service launched a new suite of resources promoting the use of health care interpreters during the recent NSLHD Interpreter Week.

The resource suite features two video resources exploring the importance of working with professional health care interpreters when providing care to consumers with limited or no English language proficiency. It also includes an A4 poster and tent card advertising the availability of free interpreters in a health care setting. The resources were developed in collaboration with consumers in response to ongoing reports from the NSLHD CALD Consumer Advisory Group that consumers are often unaware of their right to access an interpreter were not offered an

interpreter by health care staff. Health Literacy and Community Partnerships Officer Kaidee Dick, said that promoting the health care interpreter Service to both consumers and health care staff was the key to increasing interpreter usage within the district. “During the development of these resources, it became clear that we needed to target both staff and consumers, many consumers didn’t know they were entitled to access an interpreter, didn’t feel confident to ask or thought there was a cost involved, making them reluctant to

Interpreter Week stall at Hornsby Hospital



International recognition for remarkable Kolling researcher Professor Carol Pollock has received a highly prestigious award for her extraordinary commitment to research. The International Society of Nephrology

accolades, including a ministerial award for excellence in cardiovascular research and a Vice Chancellors award for research supervision from the University of Sydney. In 2021, Carol received the Haiyan Wang Award which recognises individuals who have made substantial contributions to the clinical or translational science and development of nephrology service and education in the Asia Pacific Region. In that year, Carol was also appointed an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to medical research, education and science, nephrology and clinical practice.

(ISN) has announced Professor Pollock is the 2023 recipient of the Alfred Newton Richards award for outstanding research in the field of nephrology. Carol welcomed the news. “I am extremely honoured to be recognised by the ISN for the research my team and I have done over many years,” she said. “Prior recipients of the Alfred Newton Richards Award are exceptional and I am proud to be included in this relatively small group of nephrology researchers internationally.” As a renal medicine specialist and internationally respected academic, Carol has had a remarkable career as a clinician, researcher, lecturer, mentor and advocate. Carol has published over 440 papers in clinical medicine and basic science. She has over 32,000 citations and is an inaugural Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Carol has had an extensive range of health leadership roles, and is currently the Chair of Kidney Health Australia, Chair of the NSW Bureau of Health Information and Deputy Chair of the Australian Organ, Tissue and Transplant Authority. She was chair of the NSLHD Board from 2010-2016. Carol is on several industry boards and is an ambassador of Business Events Sydney. Her dedication to her clinical and research endeavours have been recognised with many

Professor Carol Pollock

People Matter Employee survey results driving action plans The NSLHD People Matter Employee Survey (PMES), which ran last year, has led to a number of action plans implemented across the district. include: a mentoring online learning course, leader listen forums, succession planning and career conversations.

• Improve rewards and recognition: The district has improved the recognition of individual contributions to increase motivation and staff feeling valued such as introducing additional award programs. • Improve the wellbeing of staff: The district is managing excess leave, providing wellness days and fatigue and stress management initiatives. • Improve flexible work: The district is reviewing and improving flexible working arrangements across all levels. Senior leaders will continue to work with managers and staff across the district to ensure the action plans are adequate and are making a difference to work lives of staff members.

The PMES is conducted annually and allows staff across the district to weigh in on how they are feeling at work, and what changes could be made to enhance their lives at work. 2022 proved to be a record year in terms of participation of the survey with an uplift of 10 per cent. There has been a range of site and service- specific action plans developed to cater for individual needs, and there are also five common action plans that will be rolled out across the district: • Improving communication: The district has provided tools and support to enhance the relationship between senior leaders and staff and increase job enrichment. Some examples



Sam Heffernan, Pich Chhay, Dr Mounir Boudali and Lionel Leck

younger researchers Provided with travel opportunities A collection of up and coming researchers will have the chance to broaden their experience thanks to funding provided through the Skipper Jacobs Charitable Trust.

Auckland to broaden her understanding of the ultrastructure of human tendons. There she will use the lab’s new imaging methods to explore tendon structure and the impact of disease and injury. Dr Mounir Boudali will visit the renowned Cleveland Clinic in the USA to enhance his knowledge of using robotics in biomechanical research for joint replacements. Mounir will visit the development team behind the software which is powering the Kolling’s new biomechanical robot. Dr Kenji Fujita has helped develop the frailty index for patients undergoing surgeries, while also leading research on the quality of pharmaceutical care. He is keen to share his knowledge and experience with international collaborators and will visit Denmark, Norway and Japan. It is anticipated the travel program will not only benefit research here on the RNSH campus, but will assist international collaborators, and improve health outcomes in Australia and beyond.

Close to $40,000 will be shared amongst five early-to-mid career researchers, allowing them to travel nationally and internationally expanding their research and developing new skills. PhD student Lionel Leck from the Cancer Drug Resistance and Stem Cell Program at the Kolling Institute will visit the Seoul National University to gain first-hand experience of a new technique looking at the molecular mechanisms of specific cancers. It is hoped this will in turn, lead to the development of new drugs to fight cancer. Fellow PhD student Pich Chhay from the Cardiovascular Discovery Group will visit the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide. There she will learn an innovative technique using gas chromatography to measure omega-3 in blood samples as an indicator of early heart disease. Samantha Hefferan from the Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Lab will visit the University of

SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS Share your news and achievements. Contact the Media and Communications team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD-media@health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.



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