NSLHD News 16 September 2021

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


Main story Short blurb kid ey bus flips from vacations to vaccinations The bus is back on the road giving vulnerable and at-risk communities an opportunity to have the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more on Page 3 Read more on Page x

Local centre guiding gold standard rehabilitation care Page 6

staff deployed to help far west nsw lhd Page 7


Message from the Chief Executive Deb Willcox

The community response to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is really encouraging. To have reached 80 per cent of eligible people having their first dose in NSW is a really promising milestone. However just over 43 per cent of NSW have received both doses so we have still some way to go to reach the first milestone of 70 per cent. Our district thankfully has a community with some of the highest vaccination rates in NSW and our staff are also the most vaccinated of any other local health district. Vaccination is playing such an important role in trying to control the COVID-19 case numbers and we need to achieve the highest rates possible. As healthcare workers you have an opportunity to encourage the community, your friends and family, to get vaccinated. Healthcare workers are seen by many in the community as a trusted source of information on COVID-19 vaccines and for those people who are vaccine hesitant your advice and encouragement will be particularly important. Some of our clinical staff may be approached by patients who have concerns about the vaccine and may seek guidance. The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIR) provides some useful resources and information on COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare professionals to help them encourage their patients to get immunised which can be found on their website www.ncirs.org.au. As this year continues to throw challenges at our community, it is important we continue to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. It is the most important thing we can do, not just for ourselves, but for our loved

ones, colleagues, and importantly, our patients. A new wellbeing platform, called Moments that Matter, is now available to each of you to provide additional support. It has helpful tools on mindfulness, diet and nutrition, exercise planners, as well as relevant resources for mental health, tips on how to work remotely, budgeting, a dedicated podcast channel and many other wonderful resources to support you. You can sign up at the following web address: https://balance2life.com.au/Join/ NSLHD and register using your email and the four digit company code 0721. If you have any questions or need help accessing the wellbeing platform please email Hayley.Johnson1@health.nsw.gov.au The stabilisation of COVID-19 cases in recent days is really encouraging and is providing us with some cautious optimism. While the rates of community COVID-19 transmission in our own district remain relatively low we continue to assist the health system as a whole and in other local health districts. While we now have the roadmap unveiled by the NSW Government last week to the easing of some restrictions, we must stay the course, remain vigilant, get vaccinated and look after each other. I thank you all for your ongoing commitment and hard work as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Some of the team who helped set up the bus

BIG RED KIDNEY BUS FLIPS FROM VACATIONS TO VACCINATIONS The Big Red Kidney Bus is back on the road, but this time with a different job – giving vulnerable and at-risk communities an opportunity to have the COVID-19 vaccine. The bus, which normally travels to holiday destinations to give while holidaying is not possible. Kidney Health Australia Chief Executive Officer, Chris Forbes, said Kidney Health Australia was delighted the bus could offer critical support when it was needed most. wider NSW community as they continue to turn out in record numbers and roll up their sleeve to keep themselves, their family and other loved ones safe,” she said. A number of staff have worked around the clock

to make the project possible, including but not limited to, nursing staff, counter disaster and information communications and technology, as well as Kidney Health Australia. The pop-up clinic is operating between 8.30am and 3pm, seven days a week. Those wishing to be vaccinated need to bring photo ID and their Medicare card, if they have one.

“The bus may be sporting a new look and be serving a different purpose, but it will still be offering a life- changing service, only this time in ensuring people are protected against COVID-19,” Mr Forbes said. Northern Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive Deb Willcox said the rebadged bus would provide easy access to vaccines for COVID-19 to those wanting to be vaccinated. “Our staff on the bus are excited to be helping the families can nominate one person to be the primary contact and then pass on that information to the rest of the family. Family carers who are having difficulties contacting their loved one or need help with information on their care, can also contact the NSLHD Carer Support Service. The Carer Support Service is there to support

patients kidney dialysis, is now at the Police and Citizens Youth Club in Shalvey in western Sydney. The PCYC, which is located at 453A Luxford Rd, Shalvey, is set up as a vaccination clinic, offering the AstraZeneca vaccine on a walk-in basis. The bus, previously operated by Kidney Health Australia with staffing support from Royal North Shore Hospital, has been repurposed to serve as a mobile vaccination clinic

Support for our patients’ families during restricted visiting We understand it is a difficult time to have a loved one in hospital at families at their time of need, and can liaise between the medical teams and families.

the moment, especially as we have visitor restrictions in place to protect our patients, staff, and the community from COVID-19. If you have a loved one in hospital, you can seek information on their care from a member of their medical and nursing team. To help our staff, we ask if

To contact the NSLHD Carer Support Service, phone 9462 9488 during business hours. Please note this is not an emergency service. The team can also help with guiding carers in a variety of ways with more information found at www.nscarersupport.com



rNSH teams identifying COVID-19 impact on heart health The largest study of its

such as heart failure and heart inflammation were not as common as expected, with one in fifty patients experiencing heart failure, and one person in one hundred suffering clinically significant heart inflammation. “The initial results of the AUS-COVID study demonstrate that cardiac complications from COVID-19 while concerning are not as common as we initially feared they would be,” he said. “The rates of complications were reassuringly lower than those published in other countries across Europe and North America.” As the Delta strain of COVID-19 continues to spread in parts of Australia, researchers will now shift their focus towards assessing the cardiac complications of this highly-contagious strain. “We are seeing initial reports of an increase in cardiac complications, including a rise in the number of younger

type in Australia will investigate the impact of COVID-19 on younger patients with new trends emerging around the cardiac complications from the Delta strain of the virus.

Launched last year, the AUS-COVID trial assessed more than 640 patients in 21

RNSH Head of Cardiology and Kolling researcher Professor Ravinay Bhindi

patients experiencing significant cardiac events, such as myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart. “These preliminary indications point to a concerning new trend for a group which has until now, largely escaped significant health complications from COVID-19.” Ravinay said the rising importance of the study to help inform clinicians around the likely outcomes and best models of care for these patients. number of cases demonstrates the “As the largest registry of cardiac complications from COVID-19 in Australia, it will have a key role in improving health outcomes, and potentially saving lives.”

hospitals across Australia, recording cardiovascular complications. From this group, 125 were people were admitted to intensive care units and 92 patients died. Initial study results indicate one in twenty five patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 developed atrial fibrillation or abnormal heart rhythm, and this occurred more frequently in those over 65, in 1 in 16 patients. Abnormal heart rhythm can lead to stroke and requires prompt treatment. RNSH Head of Cardiology and Kolling researcher Professor Ravinay Bhindi said the trial found that other concerning complications of COVID-19

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Virtual Hospital staff

nslhd’s virtual hospital caring for community It runs just like a hospital and it cares for patients

centre and speak to a registered nurse, if they have concerns about worsening symptoms or are anxious. Each day, the team calls the patients, who are categorised into high, medium and low risk – and discuss their symptoms deteriorates, an ambulance is called and they are taken to hospital. “We call each day; it is a medical check but it’s also a welfare check to see if they are managing at and welfare needs. Paul said if a patient home, are they still able to isolate, do they have food, how are the others in their household,” he said. “It’s a hospital not in a hospital building. It has all the fundamentals. It is staffed like a hospital would be with doctors, nurses, allied health, administration support and it has a governance

structure like a hospital with a general manager, medical directors and nurse unit managers.” Reassuringly, many of the patients who are under the Virtual Hospital care go on to recover and don’t need hospitalisation. Beyond COVID-19, the Virtual Hospital will continue to be part of the health service, looking to treat a range of patients who don’t require hospital admission, but need care and treatment in their homes. “It definitely has a role to play in the future. We are looking carefully at how we can manage patients in the future in the community with the aim to care for people out of hospital or if they do require admission, preventing readmission,” Paul said. “This (model) is well on the way.”

just like a hospital, but it won’t appear on any Google map searches. That’s because Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Virtual Hospital isn’t caring for patients in a building, but treating around 350 patients in their homes. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, renal and general physician Dr Paul Collett has been overseeing the Virtual Hospital as clinical medical director, treating members of the community who are COVID-19 positive in their homes, unless they require a transfer to hospital. Located in a building on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus, the team of doctors and nurses triage and treat the patients via telephone or videoconference. Patients can also phone into a call


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



NSLHD finding an e-solution to be used across the state NSLHD has developed an electronic medical record discharge summary for hospital patients identified as close contacts of discharge. RNSH’s medical

support discharge planning COVID-19 patients from inpatient and virtual care settings. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said it was wonderful to see the work of so many people at NSLHD be acknowledged by eHealth NSW, which will now help so many of their colleagues. “This is an ingenious solution which not only benefits the patient as part of their discharge after- care but helps clinicians any potential COVID-19 contacts if the patient is readmitted to hospital shortly after discharge. “Everyone should be so proud of what they have achieved knowing that this will be used by other hospitals across the state who have been grappling with the same issue.”

administration registrar Dr Nanda Kumar Sakaleshpura Chandrashekar was one of the clinicians who worked on developing the tool with ICT, which has now been picked up by eHealth NSW. “Some other hospitals have been asking e-Health for something like this,” Nanda said. “Ours is the most mature and evolved.” ICT developed the electronic ‘COVID-19 close contact discharge planning’ form which is included in the discharge referrals and HealtheNet. eHealth NSW has requested the ICT team represent NSLHD on the state design working group to assist with the enhancement for a statewide eMR solution to

COVID-19 which will soon be used across the NSW Health system. The eMR COVID-19 close contact discharge summary provides nurses and doctors with a simple process for discharging a patient who has been identified as being a close contact of a COVID-19 case while in hospital. Importantly, the discharge summary gives the patient’s GP information on the follow up care they may need as a close contact of COVID-19. It also allows for clinicians to see in the eMR system the patient has been exposed to a COVID-19 case if they are readmitted to hospital shortly after their interesting patient story or a staff member whose story should be shared with our community, a team who would like to be featured as part of the campaign, a department that is after certain equipment or an innovative idea which could benefit from additional funding. The NORTH Foundation’s 2021 tax appeal raised over $330,000 with donations going to a wide variety of projects including NICU equipment, kidney disease research, mental health services and cancer patient

NORTH Foundation call out for Christmas appeal The NORTH Foundation is starting to prepare for its Christmas appeal and is calling on staff and patients to get involved. The team is after an well-being programs. NORTH Foundation CEO Gilbert Lorquet said: “In previous fundraising appeals, we have featured heart-warming

patient stories and demonstrated the need for research and technological initiatives to encourage the NSLHD community to donate. “Many of our donors are grateful patients or family members and loved ones of patients who have experienced our services and are grateful for everything that our NSLHD staff do. “For this reason, we want to feature you – our staff and

patients – at the heart of our appeal.” Get in touch with the NORTH Foundation if you would like to get involved – share your stories and fundraising requirements at comms@northfoundation. org.au.



Online Health Program a Surprise Package A self-confessed ‘hard case’

“As well as a personal telephone coach, participants receive self-paced interactive healthy eating and lifestyle modules, as well as exercise videos to do in their home each week,” she said. A couple of weeks into the program Beverley didn’t look back. With support from her

with low expectations of NSLHD Health Promotion’s Healthy and Active for Life Online program has been ‘softened’ and surprised by her experience – and she even quite enjoyed it. Beverley from Ku-ring- gai, signed up for the free online healthy lifestyle program in term three this year. “I live alone in lockdown and a bit too close to the fridge…you get the picture,” Beverley said. “So I tentatively embarked on the program, willing, but without high expectations.” Healthy and Active for Life is a free 10-week online program for people aged 60 years and above, or 45 and above for people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. NSLHD Health Promotion Manager Joanna Jaques said it aims to support older people to live independently by increasing their knowledge, skills and confidence in how to lead active and healthy lives, while also helping to prevent falls. Vale Megan Chiu Megan Chiu, the Service Director for NSLHD Child and Youth Mental Health Services (CYMHS) has passed away following a very rapid onset illness. Megan was an inspirational leader; very much loved and respected by so many clinicians, managers, external partners, and most of all the families and young people that we care for. She was a strong and

NSLHD Health Promotion Manager Joanna Jaques

reinforce her understanding of the instructions. “I also liked the way the online format gave the program another dimension,” she said. “I’m halfway through and I know I will miss it when it ends, however the changes in lifestyle have become an enjoyable part of my life and I am grateful.” Healthy and Active for Life is a free NSW Health state wide program run across the Northern Sydney Local Health District. The online program runs four times a year, with the next program starting on Monday, 27 September. To register for the program, visit www. activeandhealthy.nsw.gov. au and follow the links.

personal health coach she soon worked out how to combine the workbook and hand-outs with the online component and the weekly coaching. “I am now fairly effortlessly incorporating the lifestyle changes the program offers because they are tailored to my lifestyle and include exercise and nutrition,” she said. “The weekly, often hilarious, progress chats with my wise health coach also help.” Beverley said her favourite aspects of the program were the quizzes, particularly the chance to try the ones she got wrong again, and having the exercises demonstrated to amazing advocate for the young people who entered or resided in the district and their right to the best possible care and strongest possible start in life. She drove discernable positive system changes in CYMHS, the wider care service system and partnered so beautifully with all stakeholders. Megan leaves behind her young son William and husband Blake.

Our thoughts are with them during this very difficult time.



Swapping screening for swabbing: Meredith’s S.H.A sojourn She has gone from

screening for breast cancer, to swabbing for COVID-19 – but Northern Sydney and Central Coast BreastScreen Director Meredith Kay is simply happy to be playing a role. Meredith has spent Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays swabbing staff at the Special Health Accommodation site in North Ryde. “COVID-19 has presented so many challenges that it is sometimes hard to know where to start,” she said. “It has been really tough having to temporarily close a service that is so important to women and that we, the BreastScreen team, work so hard to ensure that the care and service we provide is ‘top drawer.’ But we can still make a difference by chipping in and doing what we can to help.” Staff from multiple disciplines and services that have been postponed across the district have put up their hand to undertake a range of tasks. For Meredith, her role swabbing was somewhat of a ‘coming home’ moment, and has allowed her to connect with staff she would not normally get to see. “My original training and experience is in Oral Health, so I was familiar with the oral cavity but my mother always told me not to stick things up people’s noses,” she said. “The swabbing clinic at North Ryde is currently mainly staffed with deployed PACH staff, it has been a fantastic opportunity to work with

Meredith Kaye, Child Youth Family speech pathologist Gracee O’Brien and oral health therapist Grace Wong at the SHA

Meredith Kaye conducts surveillance testing on a staff member at the North Ryde SHA

colleagues who I wouldn’t normally see or get to know. “It is interesting getting to know and learn about other staff, their roles and the services within PACH, particularly the Child, Youth and Family and Oral Health Services. We always manage to have a laugh or three and I learn something new every shift.” While she is looking forward to getting back to BreastScreen, Meredith was grateful to have played a role in keeping NSW safe.

“Working at the SHA doing nose and throat swabbing is not what I want to do forever but I am helping, hopefully making a positive contribution, learning new things and at the moment it is certainly not competing with my non-hectic social life,” she said. “At the end of each shift, after standing for most of the eight hours, I feel absolutely tuckered out but I am confident that I have made a difference in the COVID-19 race.”



Local centre guiding gold standard rehabilitation care The John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research has been awarded close to $10 million to help improve the next five years. “The John Walsh Centre for

Rehabilitation Research has played a key role providing evidence-

lives of those living with injury-related disability. The funding has been granted by the state’s compensation agencies icare NSW and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, continuing a 20 year research partnership. icare NSW Managing Director and CEO Richard Harding said the research was invaluable in supporting people with injuries. “Getting the right care and support for injured people is paramount. This investment will ensure NSW stays at the forefront of treatments and recovery pathways for severely- injured people,” he said. Chief Executive of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority Adam Dent said the ongoing investment will ensure this specialised research continues over the A new performance and talent system, to improve the recording of staff performance and aligning individual goals to team and organisation-wide ones, is being piloted across NSLHD. Known as PAT, the online platform is paper-free and aligns with StaffLink. Director of People and Culture Paula Wlliscroft said PAT will be fully integrated into the existing PRIDE model, creating a refreshed and easier process. “Results from previous

based advice, and informing policy and legislative changes to make personal injury schemes in NSW sustainable and meet the needs of scheme claimants,” Mr Dent said. Head of the centre Professor Ian Cameron has welcomed the substantial funding, saying it will allow them to expand their activities and increase the impact of their research. “While the emphasis of the funding is to support people injured in NSW workplaces and on NSW roads, the expanded work will directly impact on the health of people in the NSLHD who have People Matter Employee Surveys told us more than 70 per cent of staff are already having productive performance and support conversations regularly with their manager, but StaffLink stats don’t reflect this result. “PAT gives us the opportunity to transition our current performance development processes towards a consistent, digitally enabled approach.” Finance and Corporate Services are taking part in

John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research team

“Our research aims to improve rehabilitation services for people with severe injury, particularly traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, and also people with musculoskeletal and psychological injuries. “Our focus is on applying our research progress to clinical practice, so that we are directly improving the lives of people living with disabilities. “Importantly, a key part of our success will rely on our collaborations within the NSLHD and the Kolling Corporate Services Jacquie Ferguson said: “Being involved in the PAT pilot is an opportunity to make sure we emphasise the importance of the manager and employee communication on staff development.” The pilot provides with the opportunity to investigate the overall PRIDE process, the PAT system and required training prior to the full roll out across NSLHD. For further information on the pilot or PAT, please contact Paul Rutten: Paul. Rutten@health.nsw.gov.au

experienced injury or illness causing disability,” he said. Institute to broaden our research and educational activities.” NEW SYSTEM TO IMPROVE RECORDING OF STAFF PEFORMANCE AND GOALs

the pilot to test PAT. Director Finance and




to support communities responding to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Staff from across the district have put up their hand to travel to Broken Hill, Dubbo and Wilcannia to help colleagues in Far West Local Health District in any way they can. Director of Aboriginal Health Peter Shine and Registered Nurse Barbara Triantafilis are currently based in Broken Hill. Peter has been trained up to work with the local public health unit, while Barbara is working at a vaccination hub. Peter said being on the ground, working with the public health unit and going into COVID-19 hot spot areas is a huge learning experience, but he is surrounded by a fabulous team. “A lot of the mob aren’t getting vaccinated or presenting for COVID-19 testing and they are reluctant to do so unless they see the danger to them directly is imminent. “Together with staff on the

Director of Aboriginal Health Peter Shine and Registered Nurse Barbara Triantafilis are currently based in Broken Hill

ground, we are working on a way to try and get all rates up – both COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccination.” For the last two weeks, Royal North Shore Hospital Intensive Care Unit nurses Mikaela Hedge and Emma Cardwell (pictured on the front cover in full personal protective equipment) have been working at Dubbo Base Hospital’s ICU. The unit has capacity for five ventilated patients but when Mikaela and Emma arrived there were already five ventilated patients. “The ICU was already pretty much pushing the boundaries and struggling to manage,” Mikaela said. “We went straight on the

roster and became part of the team – everyone was very appreciative of us being there.” At one point, Mikaela – who has six years’ experience working in the ICU – realised she was the most senior person on the floor. “And I had only been in the hospital for 10 days,” she said. “At regional hospitals there’s not the same resources you have at a major metro hospital, but it was really impressive to see how everyone wanted to help out wherever they could. “There were lots of young and enthusiastic nurses who put up their hand to help. “So the team used Emma and I to help educate more junior staff who didn’t have experience working in intensive care and to train up theatre staff, so when we left it wouldn’t leave a big gap. “Hopefully we’ve helped those nurses train for the future.”

RNSH ICU nurses Emma and Mikaela in Dubbo



Emma said it was an easy decision to put her hand up to go to Dubbo, but couldn’t have done so without the support from her team at RNSH. “While I work at RNSH, we are all part of the NSW Health system, and our colleagues were asking for help,” she said. “Mikaela and I work with a great team who worked incredibly hard to enable two staff members to be freed up to assist our colleagues in Dubbo. “To me this was not about two nurses going to Dubbo, it was an entire department looking at what they could do to provide support to Western NSW in a time of need.” Hornsby Hospital Critical Care Nurse Consultant

Hornsby Hospital Critical Care Nurse Consultant Wenche Kverneland with SES volunteer Iris Smith

do so at home. “I provide wellbeing checks and COVID-19 swabs for those who are self-isolating in the community supported accommodation,” Wenche said. “Together with other NSW Health staff, we are working with the SES and RFS to assist with the operations by providing logistical support. “It’s really nice to be able to help in some way and the people are so lovely.” Chief Executive Deb Willcox said she was very Professor Jonathan Morris said women with gestational diabetes have higher rates of complications such as pre-eclampsia and may develop diabetes later in life. The RNSH maternal-fetal medicine specialist said there can be complications for babies of mothers with gestational diabetes too, with these babies more likely to be large. “We have seen a significant increase in the rates of gestational diabetes

proud of staff for putting themselves forward to help out. “This is a very difficult time for these communities and being able to contribute is a very important and probably life-changing experience for our staff,” she said. “Thank you to all our staff who have kindly agreed to work outside of your roles, away from your workplace and colleagues – and in some cases your families and loved ones – and assist in our whole-of-health system response.” since 2010 following new recommendations which lowered the threshold for diagnosis,” he said. “While more women have been diagnosed with this type of diabetes, our research team found there’s also been a rise in the number of interventions including planned births or caesarean sections, leading to more babies being born before 40 weeks without a clear improvement in health outcomes for women and their babies.

Wenche Kverneland is currently based in Wilcannia.

Wenche has been helping with setting up community supported accommodation for close contacts to self- isolate safely if they can’t

Outcomes not improving for women with gestational diabetes Researchers are calling

for a reduction in medical interventions and a more personalised approach for women at risk of gestational diabetes. The call follows an analysis of all births in New South Wales over a 10-year period, which found the incidence of gestational diabetes had more than doubled and now affects up to 15 per cent of pregnant women. Director of the Kolling Institute’s Women and Babies Research team,



Celebrating the Allied Health community

Thursday 14th October 2021 #StrongerTogether #AlliedHealthProfessionsDay Celebrate the skills, achievements, and work of Allied Health Professionals this October. Contact your Allied Health team for more information.

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