NSLHD News 15 September 2023


Main story NEW spinal cord injury maintenance tool A new tool has launched to help people with spinal cord injuries with some of the complex challenges that can arise after injury. Page 5 Short blurb Read more on Page x

hornsby midwifery continuity of care Page 3

raising funds for brain cancer research Page 4


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

Volunteers play an extraordinary role in our hospital ecosystem. Day in, and day out, volunteers across the district make significant contributions in a variety of ways, whether it be through visiting patients on wards or fundraising. It was therefore wonderful to hear that our volunteers from Royal North Shore and Ryde Hospital were recently honoured at the 2023 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards at a ceremony in Kirribilli. Christina Louie was recognised for volunteering at RNSH for six years, and Ian and Gillian Grose were acknowledged for a combined length of 29 years of service. I congratulate them for being nominated for this award which is now one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across Australia. The Workplace Giving Program gives staff the opportunity to make a difference by donating a small portion of every pay to a charity. It is one of the most simple and convenient ways to donate, connect with important social issues, and make a real difference. Since 2019, staff have been supporting Dignity, an incredible local charity that supports people who are homeless or at risk of it. It is now my great pleasure to announce that we are adding the Te-Kworo Foundation to our successful Workplace Giving Program. The Te-Kworo Foundation works with vulnerable people in northern Uganda. The foundation aims to give every woman and child the chance of a healthy life by supporting access to education and life- saving maternal health services.

mothers so they can deliver their babies safely. It also offers minor surgery, paediatric care, vaccinations, and ante-natal care, and has two ambulances to transfer critical cases to the nearest hospital which can be hours away. I recently met up with 70 physiotherapists from across the district to celebrate World Physiotherapy Day, which aims to acknowledge and raise awareness about the crucial contribution of physiotherapists every day. The theme of this year was a focus on rehabilitation and Long COVID, and the role that physiotherapists can play in helping those suffering from Long COVID. Over 180 physiotherapists work across the district in a range of settings, making a significant difference to the lives of patients and their families/carers. It was interesting spending time with them and learning more about the work they do. We also recently marked R U OK Day on September 14. This national day of action is an important reminder that we all need to check in with those around us and ask, ‘Are you OK?’. The power of taking the time to have a conversation and genuinely listening with an open mind is often underestimated. In doing so, we can help the people around us feel supported and connected. Finally, our annual NSW People Matter Employee Survey closed on 15 September, and I’d like to thank everyone who did the survey. The results help us see what is working and areas that need improvement. The summary results will be published in early November 2023. Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District

The foundation also runs a clinic, which provides facilities and care for pregnant



Raising funds for brain cancer research The Ward 7D Neurosurgery team has raised over $6000 for brain cancer research, which

North Shore Neuro Nurses’ also went in the City to Surf and raised over $3700. Mark Hughes, a former rugby league player, and his wife Kirralee set up the foundation in his name in 2014. Harriet says the ward was inspired to donate more money to brain cancer research to help the prognosis of patients. “As a team, we’re dealing with it on a daily basis and it’s something that a lot of our team are quite passionate about,” she said. The clinical nurse consultant says the neurosurgery team are keen to do more this year. “We do it for fundraising, health promotion and team bonding as well.”

they have donated to the Mark Hughes Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising funds for brain cancer research. “We were really proud of raising that amount in the end,” said Harriet Brazill, a clinical nurse consultant on the ward. The team put on a stall in the RNSH foyer selling Mark Hughes Foundation beanies and baked goods supplied by 7D nursing and allied health staff. The stall was run by volunteers Michelle and Denise, who gave up a whole day and made it a huge success, raising nearly $2400. A ward 7D team known as the ‘Notorious

Child Protection in the spotlight At least 60 per cent of Australians have experienced one ore more types of maltreatment which can include physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect or exposure to domestic violence. Those alarming rates were put into the spotlight recently during Child Protection week. This year’s theme was “where we start matters.” NSLHD Chief Executive Adjunct Professor Anthony Schembri AM said: “prevention and response to violence, abuse and neglect is a public health issue.” “Protecting children is all our business and each health care worker has an important role to play in helping children and young people live free from violence, abuse, and neglect.” Staff were able to attend a child protection week forum, organised by NSLHD’s Prevention and Response to Violence Abuse and Neglect (PARVAN), to access newly created child protection resources, hear presentations on child sexual assault and hear about the latest Australian research on child maltreatment. The key findings of The Australian Child Maltreatment Study have shown alarming rates of child abuse in Australia, including two in five Australians have experienced multi-type maltreatment (two or more types). Children and young people who have experienced trauma often have complex health needs and regularly access the health

system. This research highlights the important role health services play in responding to child protection concerns and supporting vulnerable children, young people and families.

PARVAN Director Rachel Wolfe with NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri



Mums appreciate continuity of care When Kate Ephraums fell pregnant with her first child, she wasn’t sure what kind of care to get. She was the first in her family and friendship group to have a baby. “I thought we

Hornsby Hospital, but particularly in this role in this practice which gives me continuity with women and their families to make these wonderful connections.” Under this unique model, a mother sees the same midwife during her pregnancy, labour, birth and up to two weeks after her child is born. Each midwife cares for their own cohort of women and supports each other when needed. Mums and babies experience a range of well- established benefits from this method of care. Women are more likely to have a normal vaginal birth and successfully breastfeed. There are fewer medical interventions such as caesarean sections and epidurals. The midwifery group practice has run for 12 years and sees over 200 babies delivered annually. With the demand for continuity of care being so high the team has expanded, recently welcoming their sixth midwife Hannah to the fold.

would go through the GP path,” she said. But a friend’s mother encouraged her to go through a midwifery program, a decision which she says changed her life. Three sons later — Henry, James and Angus— Kate is effusive about her experiences at Hornsby Kuring-Gai Hospital Midwifery Group Practice under the care of midwife Kim Baker. “It has been amazing. I haven’t been stressed at all going through the births. Kim has just been there for us. I’m so grateful,” said Kate. Kim got to know Kate when she was pregnant with her first child and says being there for the births of her second and third children was even more special. “It was really lovely being there as their family expanded with each addition of a new gorgeous baby,” she said. “I feel truly blessed to be a midwife at

Mum Kate Ephraums (left) with her baby and midwife Kim (right)



Physiotherapists gathered at RNSH with CE Anthony Schembri

World Physiotherapy Day celebrations Physiotherapists from across the district were joined by NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri at Royal North Shore Hospital and virtually to celebrate World Physiotherapy Day. The day is celebrated each year to

physiotherapists from various sites and services to come together. “It was fantastic to see so many of our wonderful physiotherapists be able to celebrate their achievements and contributions to the district,” she said.

acknowledge generate awareness about the crucial contribution physiotherapists make to society, NSLHD Director of Allied Health Julia Capper said the day was a great opportunity for

NSLHD has over 180 physiotherapists across the district that make a difference each and every day to patients, consumers and their families/carers. tool provides support for people with spinal cord injuries A valuable digital resource has been launched

individuals can learn what they need to do to stay well and what action to take when health issues arise. “The tool was developed following genuine, multi-method consultation with meaningful engagement with a diverse stakeholder group,” he said. “This process ensured the voices of individuals living with a spinal cord injury and their healthcare providers were incorporated into the design of this important new resource. “During the consultations for instance, we found there was a need to place a greater emphasis on mental health and wellness, so an additional component on mental health was included. “We are very proud of this resource which will provide practical and easily accessible information to those with a spinal cord injury.” The freely available tool was developed in partnership between The University of Sydney, Royal Rehab, the State SCI Service, the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation, and with funding provided by icare NSW. To find out more about this comprehensive resource visit healthmaintenancetool.com

to help people with spinal cord injuries troubleshoot some of the complex health challenges that can arise after injury. The Spinal Cord Injury Health Maintenance Tool, which includes a website, smartphone app and hardcopy booklets, has been designed to empower people to self-manage their health-related needs and maintain a high quality of life. Launched by NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce AM, the tool provides reliable, evidence-based and easy-to-understand information to help those with spinal cord injuries and their primary health care providers manage injury related concerns. It features interactive tools such as a quick health checker, collaborative care plans, symptom trackers and goal setting programs. The tool also offers self-management strategies focusing on mental health and wellbeing, as well as bladder, bowel, skin, pain and autonomic dysreflexia concerns. University of Sydney and Kolling Institute researcher Professor James Middleton, who was instrumental in the design of the resource, said the tool had been written through the lens of someone with a spinal cord injury, so



Net Zero pharmacists leading the way When pharmacists Sally Nicolson and Debbie

It is unsurprising that both Debbie and Sally are Net Zero leads — they are very committed personally and professionally to environmental issues. Debbie is back at university studying regenerative agriculture. “It’s led to increasing my focus and awareness, and my need and want to do something about the planet,” she said. Sally comes from a farming family where she said nothing went to waste. She also says television shows such as “War on Waste” highlight how change comes from grassroots-level initiatives and individuals on the ground and have inspired her. “I want to be part of the difference,” she said.

Barry took on the Net Zero Lead roles at Hornsby Ku-ring-Gai Hospital, they were tasked with developing projects with a pharmaceutical focus. They chose to start locally by reducing the environmental footprint of the dispensary. The plastic bags in their pharmacy were their first target, particularly after they calculated the hospital was using up to 31,000 single- use plastic bags per annum. The pair found that most of these bags could be replaced with paper bags or cartons that can be recycled and are biodegradable. The new paper bags were rolled out in March this year. Debbie says their Net Zero project started in November 2022, around the same time a public mandate came out to stop single-use plastics in the community. “It was a good project start for our Net Zero,” she said. The pair is now focusing on developing and rolling out a pharmaceutical waste project, which involves anything that has been contaminated with a medicine. This includes empty medication vials, part doses, lines, needles, and syringes in a hospital setting. They are in the process of introducing pharmaceutical waste bins across Hornsby Hospital and the district. The bins will provide a safe way for clinical staff to dispose of waste and sharps containing any medicine residues or part doses. They will also prevent medicines from ending up in landfills and waterways, where they are toxic to animals and aquatic life. Environmental contamination with pharmaceutical waste is also detrimental to human health and contributes to the rapid development of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.

Debbie Barry (left) and Sally Nicolson (right) with the new pharmacy paper bags

Hornsby Hospital Mona Vale HOSPITAL nslhd mhda


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Ramsay Research and Teaching Fund Scheme recipients with NSLHD CE Anthony Schembri

Significant investment in research announced A large collection of research projects will get off the ground at RNSH following generous funding through the Ramsay Research and Teaching Fund Scheme. The scheme has directed more than $10 million to research on the campus over the last 20 years, and this year a further $850,000 will be shared across 17 projects. A diverse range of studies will be

reputation as a hub of research excellence and high value care. “We know that districts with an active research culture, where research is embedded as part of clinical care have a higher patient experience, less errors and better health outcomes,” he said. “I look forward to following the progress of these projects, as well as their impact on lifting our standard of care and our understanding of a broad range of conditions. “Personally, as a fellow allied health worker, it’s great to see our allied health practitioners being recognised with these important research grants.” The recipients were congratulated by North Shore Private, Ramsay Healthcare Acting CEO Christian Hoengaard, who said the grants represented a tremendous investment. “We look forward to all the good outcomes that will flow as a result of this research and I’m sure it will help us continue to deliver world leading care,” he said. “We have a long history of collaboration and I look forward to building on that partnership for another two decades.”

supported, strengthening investigations into cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes as well as osteoarthritis, neonatal care, thyroid function and physiotherapy programs. The successful recipients this year are: Professor Dale Bailey, Professor Roderick Clifton-Bligh, Professor Gemma Figtree, Professor David Hunter, Associate Professor Sarah Glastras, Associate Professor Joanne Glinsky, Associate Professor Karl Ng, Associate Professor Sean Seeho, Dr Sally Baron-Hay, Dr Grace Gifford, Dr Matti Gild, Dr Pierre Janin, Dr Barbara Lucas, Dr Sharon McCracken, Dr Lauren Monds, Dr Leo Pang and Dr Kathy Willowson. NSLHD CE Adjunct Professor Anthony Schembri AM welcomed the investment saying it will help the district maintain its

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Child Safe Action Plan Empower, listen and act together

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August 2023 @ NSW Ministry of Health.

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