NSLHD News 5 September 2023


Main story Short blurb breastscreen clinic opens at north ryde Women in the community of Ryde can now access life-saving breast cancer screening services closer to home. Page 3 Read more on Page x

Wearing it purple Page 5

jerseys for organ donation Page 7


Message from the chief executive A/Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM

This week NSW Health facilities moved from yellow alert to foundational level – the base level required to continue to protect patients, staff and visitors. The key changes are around mask wearing with staff no longer required to universally wear masks in all clinical and patient facing areas. However, staff will still be required to wear masks when providing care to patients who present to hospital with acute respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Patients will no longer need to universally wear masks, however patients with acute respiratory infections, including COVID-19, are asked to wear a surgical mask on presentation and during transit (if they are able). Patients who have been risk-assessed as vulnerable may also be asked to wear a mask when outside their hospital room. This marks a significant change to the way we have had to carry out work over the past three and a half years while we responded to COVID-19. I would like to thank everyone for continuing to remain vigilant. More information about the foundational level guidelines is available here: https://bit. ly/3L2lXMf I would like to honour Tom Reeve AC CBE, a brilliant surgeon who recently passed away aged 99. He was an eminent medical figure in this country and made many important contributions to cancer control. Professor Reeve was the inaugural Professor of Surgery at Royal North Shore Hospital and had a long career in oncology practice and research. In 2019, the hospital opened the Tom Reeve Academic Surgical Clinic in his honour and only recently, he was awarded our first-ever alumni medal. I send my condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time. He will be remembered for all the work he did for

RNSH and the broader community, as well as his incredible energy. I had the pleasure of meeting some of our speech pathologists at RNSH this week to recognise this year’s Speech Pathology Week. The theme of this year’s week was ‘Communicating for life,’ which aims to highlight the role speech pathologists play in helping people throughout their lives. It was great to meet with staff and hear about the interesting and important work they are doing and their achievements. Speaking of our allied health workforce, it gives me great pleasure to announce our Allied Health Recognition Awards are now open. In the last couple of months, I have been able to meet many of our allied health staff working across the district. These clinicians make a huge impact providing the highest quality care and support to our patients and consumers in partnership with their families and carers. The awards acknowledge individuals and teams who have made an extraordinary achievement in allied health practice in the last year. The winners of this year’s awards will progress to the NSW Health Excellence in Allied Health Awards I encourage you to please take a moment to nominate an outstanding allied health clinician or team you work alongside. Nominations can be submitted by all NSLHD staff via MS Forms link - https://bit. ly/44B0oth - and close on 24 September 2023.

Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



(Left to right) NSW Minister for Women Jodie Harrison, Director of BreastScreen NSW Northern Sydney Central Coast Meredith Kay, Professor Tracey O’Brien - NSW Chief Cancer Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Cancer Institute NSW and NSW Minister for Health Ryan Park

BreastScreen clinic opens at North Ryde Women in the community of Ryde can now access life-saving breast cancer screening services closer to home, with a new BreastScreen NSW service officially opened in North Ryde.

“It is anticipated the new permanent site on Cox’s Road will screen approximately 5,000 women every year,” he said. “Previously, women living in the area had to travel to Northern Sydney or further away for a mammogram or rely on the mobile van which regularly visited. “This permanent clinic will improve access for the more than 4,800 women who live within the Ryde catchment. “Having a permanent presence in North Ryde means appointments can be scheduled 5 days a week, virtually all year round.” The new clinic has opened with one mammography room with capacity to expand to two rooms to meet future growth and demand. BreastScreen NSW services are for eligible women with no breast cancer symptoms. Any woman experiencing breast changes, like a lump, should see their GP without delay. To book a mammogram with BreastScreen NSW, call 13 20 50 or visit BreastScreen NSW. No referral is required when making an appointment.

Director of BreastScreen NSW in Northern Sydney Meredith Kay said the new clinic will make it easier for local women to attend their recommended two-yearly screening. “Detecting breast cancer early increases your chance of survival while reducing the likelihood of invasive treatment, such as mastectomy or chemotherapy,” Meredith said. “Around 90 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history and this is why breast cancer screening is so important for all eligible women. “A screening mammogram is one of the most important things women in this age group can do for their health.” Minister for Health Ryan Park said recent planning data revealed the Ryde Local Government Area is amongst the highest projected growth areas in NSW for women aged 50-74 years.

The clinic has opened with one mammography room with capacity to expand to two rooms



A kind donation after a difficult birth Like most expecting mums, Hayley Brien was nervous but excited about the arrival of her new baby.

But when she went into labour at 39 weeks, unforeseen complications saw her son Francesco Stewart quickly transferred from another hospital to Royal North Shore’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Two months later, all is well. Baby Frankie, swaddled and sucking a dummy, slept soundly as Hayley and dad Jon Stewart presented a generous “thank you” to NICU nurse manager Claire Blackburn: a new TV. The pair decided to donate the TV as during Frankie’s two and a half weeks on the ward, they spotted it listed on a “wish list” pinned to a wall. Hayley and Jon said they wanted to give a bit of joy back to the staff. “We were struck by the incredible dedication of the people that work here – it is considered a privilege to help the tiny and sick babies,” said Hayley. “We knew a simple thank you would have been more than enough, but we just felt incredibly moved to provide something that would hopefully make a bit of a difference.” Frankie’s first few days in the NICU were intense as the couple waited to see how his birth trauma would manifest. “We were constantly on tenterhooks,” said Hayley. “Frankie kept throwing curveballs. In the end, the staff got down to the nub of the issue. But it was a wild ride.” Hayley says once they worked out the issue, his situation was quickly managed and his Vale Professor Thomas Reeve The first and founding Professor of Surgery at the Royal North Shore Hospital Professor Thomas Reeve sadly passed away at age 99. Professor Reeve had a career of highlights and was only recently awarded RNSH’s first ever alumni medal. In 2019 RNSH also opened the Tom Reeve Academic Surgical Clinic in honour of the revered surgeon. Amongst a stellar career, Professor Reeve was appointed Professor of Surgery in 1974, retiring from academia in 1988. He was elected President of the Royal Australasian College of

Hayley and Jon with their baby Frankie

condition rapidly improved. He is now on the path to recovery. Jon says they wanted to give something practical that would be used by the staff. “We were very grateful for the care they provided both to Frankie, but also to us,” he said. NICU nurse manager Claire said Frankie kept staff on their toes during his stay. “It is so humbling that at this time Frankie’s parents Hayley and Jon thought about how they could thank us,” she said. “Seeing babies leave the NICU well is the reason we all do this work.” Surgeons in 1989 and has numerous Honorary Fellowships across the world. Chair of the RNSH Medical Staff Council, Dr John Brereton said: “Generations of nursing and medical staff remembered Professor Reeve with great fondness, the utmost respect, and reverence for his surgery, his teaching and his pioneering science.” Northern Sydney Local Health District offers its condolences to family members, friends and colleagues.



interpreter service supporting patients It’s a busy Tuesday morning at the Oral Health Services clinic at Hornsby Hospital and Denghai is visiting the dentist for a check-up. Also in the room – but on a video screen - is Gordon Weixin Gong, an NSHLD Cantonese interpreter who

is translating the consultation. Denhai said that by having an interpreter via video, he could understand what was going on better. “It’s hard to understand if you can’t see,” he said. “I feel more included in the conversation.”

Denghai having a dental check-up with interpreter Gordon via video translating the consultation

patients. Adding a visual component removes barriers that can lead to misunderstandings, misdiagnoses and delayed treatments. They are also more readily available and cost- effective when compared to in-person options. Gordon said for patients, seeing an interpreter’s face via video can also make them feel more comfortable when dealing with a health professional. “We need to wear a mask for interpreting but with video, I don’t need to wear the mask and the patient can see my face. And if we smile, they feel warmer,” he said. The interpreting service is available 24/7 in person, on the telephone or via video. For more information, get in touch with the State- Wide Service Desk on 1300 28 55 33 or the Health Care Interpreting Services 9912 3800.

Gordon from the interpreter services team said video helps enhance the accuracy of interpreting. “In the dental clinic, for example, I can see where the patient is pointing,” he said. The pandemic prompted a spike in the use of video interpreting services, which are now more widely used in many services in the district. The NSLHD has recently launched a practical guide to help staff new to audio-visual calls and the Interpreter Service more broadly. The Interpreter Service team has over 100 trained interpreters who can help patients via video in 64 languages, including Auslan. Video interpreters have huge benefits for

STAFF WEARING IT PURPLE Staff across Northern Sydney Local Health District celebrated Wear It Purple Day, an initiative that strives to foster supportive, safe and inclusive environments for young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people. This year’s theme ‘Write Your Story’ promotes visibility, community and

Staff across the district dressed in purple for Wear it Purple day

our services are safe, supportive, empowering, and inclusive of the LGBTIQ+ community,” he said. The district’s Pride+ employee network brings together staff who are LGBTIQ+ and LGBTIQ+ allies to drive positive workplace culture that respects all diversity. The group meets monthly to discuss practical ways of creating a workplace culture that respects all diversity and is equally inclusive of LGBTIQ+ people.

acceptance whilst encouraging young people to embrace their unique perspectives and to share their stories with others. Northern Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive Anthony Schembri said NSLHD is committed to understanding our patients’ lived experiences and how it informs their healthcare needs. “Visible support is an opportunity to showcase



NSLHD CE Anthony Schembri with the RNSH speech pathology team

celebrating speech pathology Staff across the district celebrated Speech Pathology Week during August. The week promotes the speech pathology profession and the work done by speech pathologists with one in 7 Australians who experience a communication difficulty. The theme of this year’s week was ‘Communicating for life,’ which aims to highlight the role speech pathologists play in

helping people throughout their lives. During the week NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri visited the speech pathology team at Royal North Shore Hospital. “It was great to meet with staff and hear about the interesting and important work they are doing and their achievements,” he said.

crucial funds strengthening our research expertise A group of young researchers will have the chance to broaden their skills and establish new collaborations following a funding boost from the Royal North Shore Hospital Scientific Staff Council. group,” he said. “They are all developing their research

expertise and increasing their impact in their individual areas, ultimately improving the care we provide.” The successful recipients include cancer researchers Drs Bharat Venkatesh and Nunki Hassan, musculoskeletal investigators Drs Joanne Glinsky and Xiaoqian Liu, and scientists improving the use of medications Drs Lisa Kouladjian, Kenji Fujita and Nashwa Masnoon. Funding has also gone to kidney disease researchers Drs Ji Bian, Dr Qinghua Cao and Amanda Purcell, and two cardiology researchers Drs Jonathan Ciofani and Sina Fathieh. Dr Sahni said the travel awards program has been supported for many years by Ramsay Heathcare and he would like to thank them for their continued support of our research.

The council has awarded 12 travel grants to scientists working within the district and the Kolling Institute. The diverse group of young leaders is driving research progress into heart and kidney disease, cancer, musculoskeletal conditions and the quality use of medicines. Their investigations are helping to establish a better understanding of disease and improved models of care. RNSH Scientific Staff Council Chair Dr Sumit Sahni said more than $25,000 will be shared amongst the group to allow them to present their research at national and international conferences. “I would like to congratulate this impressive

RNSH SSC award recipients



Jerseys for organ donation Teams across NSLHD have celebrated Jersey Day in style, which aims to raise awareness for organ donation. Donate Life Jersey Day was inspired by the gift of life that Nathan Gremmo gave to six people when he became an organ donor at age 13. RNSH Donation Specialist Nurse Jenny Holman said the day, which is celebrated shortly after Donate Life Week, is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. “Registering to become an organ donor has never been easier and I’m lucky to see the impact donors have on the lives of others every day,” she said. “Jersey Day is all about raising awareness

RNSH ICU rocked their favourite jerseys to celebrate the day

and it’s a great excuse to wear a jersey for a fantastic cause.” Anyone aged 16 and over can register online to be an organ donor by visiting https://www. donatelife.gov.au/.

New research to determine best practice for knee osteoarthritis

Our researchers at the Kolling Institute are set to influence the delivery of osteoarthritis care across Australia following a significant funding announcement. More than $1.4 million has been awarded to internationally recognised rheumatologist and researcher Professor David Hunter as part of the NHMRC Partnership Project Grants Scheme. The scheme is designed to help researchers work directly with partners to deliver programs that respond to community needs, improve equity and broaden access to care. David’s project is one of seven being funded this year at a total cost of $9 million. It will compare the effectiveness of a telehealth approach with optimal face-to- face treatment for knee osteoarthritis. David said we are enormously appreciative of both the partners who will be involved in this project, as well as the NHMRC for funding our work. “It will provide important information for policymakers to determine which groups of people will benefit most from the particular types of therapy,” he said. “It will also help confirm which model of care is the most effective and cost-effective, and which type of therapy could be efficiently delivered on a large scale. “It’s expected the methods and resources we develop during the trial will be shared widely,

Professor David Hunter’s research will compare the effectiveness of a telehealth approach with optimal face-to-face treatment for knee osteoarthritis

and adopted on a national scale.” With an increasing number of Australians experiencing osteoarthritis, Professor Hunter said it’s important we are able to inform policy makers and service providers on the best-practice management of this condition. “Despite the significant burden of the disease, the current delivery of osteoarthritis care is often not consistent or informed by evidence-based guidelines. “It is often fragmented, inappropriate and of little value. “Our team is consistently working to lift standards of care and long term health outcomes, so we are thrilled this new funding will help us progress our research in this area.”



People Matter NSW Public Sector Employee Survey

Have your say 21 August to 15 September 2023

The annual People Matter Employee Survey is your opportunity to have a say about your organisation, manager, job and team. Please take the time to participate in the survey. Your feedback will be anonymous and confidential. Your department, business unit and team are:


www.health.nsw.gov.au/ peoplemattersurvey

July 2023 @ NSW Ministry of Health.

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