NSLHD News October 15 2021

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


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Read more on Page x celebrating allied health professionals From the frontline to the community – allied health professionals were honoured on 14 October as part f Allied Health Professions Day. Read more on Page 3

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.

researchers challenge old concepts to improve care Page 7

national Carers week Page 4


Message from the Chief Executive Deb Willcox

We are fast approaching 80 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated in NSW and we have already seen some relaxing of restrictions and the easing of pressure on our health system. We have started to see a reduction in the number of people needing hospitalisation and who require ICU care. This is welcomed by our ICU and respiratory teams who have been working extremely hard caring for patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19. It has also meant we have been able to resume some services, such as some surgeries and we continue to explore what services we can resume over the coming weeks, balancing the need with COVID-19 hospitalisations. As we know with this pandemic, we are never out of the woods, and while the case numbers have decreased, we expect them to rise as more people now move about in the community. Here in Northern Sydney Local Health District, we have a high rate of vaccination among the community, as well as among our workforce. Thank you for everybody who has played a part in achieving such terrific rates of vaccination. This week we have seen the return of visitors to our hospitals. Currently only two visitors per patient a day are allowed, but this will bring much comfort and relief to our patients and their families who have had to be separated during this difficult time. On 14 October we celebrated our outstanding allied health team across the district. The past year has been difficult, but allied health, along with our other healthcare workers and support staff have risen to the challenge and showed tremendous teamwork, resilience and care.

This year’s theme is ‘Celebrating the Allied Health Community’ and given the circumstances of 2021, it has never been more important to acknowledge the important work that they do. Allied health professionals have stood shoulder to shoulder with doctors, nurses and support staff on the frontline in hospitals around Australia during the response to COVID-19. While some of the ways in which they see and treat patients have changed, one thing that has not wavered is their commitment to their patients and their community. I am continuing with my live streamed COVID-19 updates for staff. This week I was joined by the Virtual Hospital’s A/General Manager Jess Drysdale and A/Medical Director Paul Collett. If you were unable to join us, a recording will be made available on the intranet homepage under Messages from the Chief Executive after the event. You can also view the recording through the For Staff portal of the NSLHD website which is in the footer of every page at the very bottom of the website. Two-way communication is so important, especially as we navigate the next stages with the pandemic, so I encourage as many of you to send through questions to NSLHD-areacommunications@health.nsw. gov.au which I can have answered at the updates. Thank you for everything you are doing to ensure we provide the very best care to our patients. Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Celebrating our allied health professionals From the frontline, to the community – allied health professionals across northern seeing allied health clinicians step up, offer assistance and accept deployments, as well

The full list of winners were: Allied Health Assistant/ Technician/ Support Person of the Year Awarded to: Amanda Pollak (Royal North Shore Hospital) Early-Career Allied Health Professional of the Year Awarded to: Hayley Rawe (Royal North Shore Hospital) Allied Health Professional of the Year Awarded to: Natalie Ko (Ryde Hospital) Allied Health Leader of the Year Awarded to: Pauline Kemp (District) Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Allied Health Professional of the Year Awarded to: Melinda Flower (District) Allied Health Team of the Year Awarded to: NSLHD Pharmacy Teams (District) Allied Health Researcher/

Sydney and New South Wales were honoured on Thursday as part of Allied Health Professions Day. The annual celebration looked slightly different this year as it fell in the first week of partially relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, but online was a sea of aqua blue to recognise their hard work. In the month leading up to the day, Northern Sydney Local Health District social media celebrated a number of individuals and their disciplines in the #HumansOfAlliedHealth series, while allied health teams across their district contributed to a district-wide video. You can view that video here: https://vimeo. com/629569664 On the day, District Director of Allied Health Julia Capper announced the winners of the annual Northern Sydney Allied Health Professionals Awards. “It has been a pleasure Hotel and Hidden Gem Hotel were required to self-isolate for 14 days. Not-for-profit One Meal supported residents over the two weeks, generously providing three meals a day. NSLHD Counter Disaster Manager Louise Barker Allner said: “A huge thank you to One Meal for all your support. “Healthy dinners, sandwiches, cakes, snacks, cereals and staples definitely helped people get through their isolation.”

as teams coming together across the district,” she said. “Alongside our healthcare and support service colleagues you have been extraordinary this year – we are so proud of you all.” Northern Sydney Chief Executive Deb Willcox also paid tribute to our allied health professionals after another busy year in the face of the pandemic. “Allied health professionals have stood shoulder to shoulder with doctors, nurses and support staff on the frontline in hospitals around Australia during the response to COVID-19,” she said. “While some of the ways allied health professionals see and treat patients have changed, one thing that has not wavered is their commitment to their patients and their community. “Thank you to each and every one of you for everything you do and have a very happy Allied Health Professions Day.”

Educator of the Year Awarded to: Dr Lauren Monds (District)

MEALS DONATED TO PEOPLE IN ISOLATION IN MANLY Following a COVID-19 exposure risk in Manly, residents at Manly Wave

(Left to right): Michael O’Connor, Maurice (One Meal), Emma Tan and Tom Neal



ENGAGING WITH CARERS AS PARTNERS IN CARE National Carers Week is celebrated from 10-16

October. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness, recognise and acknowledge the 2.65 million Australians who care and support a family member or friend. COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges for everyone, including for carers whose family member or loved one is in hospital. Northern Sydney Local Health District Carer Support Service Manager Barbara Lewis said this year she encourages staff to continue to work and engage with carers to provide positive experiences. “All staff have a responsibility to identify and engage with carers as partners in care,” she said. “Their family member is our patient but the person they know and provide care for at home. “It is crucial carers are included in the patient’s care journey in order to get the best possible health outcomes.” Endorsed by NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox and hospital general managers, one of the simple but most impactful initiatives this year to improve patients

Staff from Ryde celebrating Carers Week

and carers experience is the introduction of the Carer Identification Card. The card clearly identifies carers, smoothing the entry to hospitals and wards at what can be a very difficult time. “We are already seeing the benefits of the card for carers, their loved ones and staff,” Barbara said. “The ID is a small, but helpful way to identify carers and ensure they receive the engagement they need from all staff. “This initiative will be ongoing – beyond COVID-19 – to help our staff know who the carer is and provide the right engagement with them throughout their journey whether they are accessing hospitals for acute care or outpatient appointments.”

Hospital executive teams are getting behind National Carers Week to highlight the importance of engaging with carers. CE Deb Willcox said: “Coming to hospital can be a very daunting experience for patients and carers. “Including carers along the patient journey is key to delivering a positive experience for all. “Our patients’ carers play a huge role in ensuring we can deliver the best outcomes for our patients – and we should never underestimate that.” To find out more about the Carer Identification Card or any other ways to support carers, contact Barbara’s team on 9462 9488.

RNSH executive staff celebrating Carers Week



Staff at the RNSH Operating Suite

Perioperative Nurses Week 2021 Royal North Shore Hospital’s

affects the cardiovascular system and can exacerbate chronic cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and heart failure. “Considering that cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 12 minutes, we think it’s critical to better define the link between obstructive sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease,” he said. “By broadening our understanding of the relationship between the two conditions, we’ll be in a better position to develop a new targeted approach to therapy to address this deadly duo. “We anticipate more than 500 patients will be involved in the five-year research program, where we will apply state of the art technology to study sleep in the home chocolates, cook-at-home burger kits from The Greens North Sydney, a jelly bean guessing competition, and vouchers. Clinical Nurse Consultant at RNSH’s Operating Suite Rebecca Fox said while COVID-19 restrictions limited staff from all coming together to celebrate, the amount of donations and prizes showed staff just how

much they are valued. “Our perioperative nurses and operations assistants work diligently to provide the best care to our patients,” she said. “It was a challenge to see everyone’s smiles behind their masks, but I can guarantee everyone was beaming from ear-to-ear.”

Operating Suite recently celebrated Perioperative Nurses Week to recognise the hard work of the dedicated team of nurses and operations assistants (OAs). There were many treats for the staff during the week long celebrations. These included a donation of lolly bags from the Corner Shop,

Research to confirm link between sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease The federal government

announced new funding for research which will see close to $2.5 million invested in a program based at RNSH to identify treatments for those with sleep apnoea and cardiovascular diseases. Director of the Sleep Investigation Laboratory within the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Professor Peter Cistulli will lead the research investigating the emerging evidence around the link between obstructive sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease. Known as the silent killer, obstructive sleep apnoea affects approximately one billion people globally. It is a chronic disease where the throat passage repeatedly closes during sleep, causing low oxygen levels. Professor Cistulli said we know that this condition

Sleep Medicine Professor Peter Cistulli

setting. “I am delighted to receive this funding to continue to build my CardioSleep Research Program, which will involve local, national and international collaborators, including scientists, cardiologists, and respiratory physicians from Royal North Shore Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney. “This success is testament to the talented team of individuals I have the pleasure of working with.”



Clinic 16 keeping busy while NSW gets busy during lockdown As NSW emerges from stay at home restrictions, Northern Sydney Local Health District’s sexual health service might be operating a little differently, but they know one thing for sure.

“People are still having sex,” Director of sexual health for NSLHD Dr Catriona Ooi said. “Sex while social distancing is hard to achieve, initially there was some COVID-19 ‘safer’ sex advice promoted by some, but these have been largely ignored. “While we initially saw a decline in people’s sexual activity, this did not last long.” Treeny said while the initial impact of restrictions slowed patient presentations, human nature eventually prevailed. “After a short while the demand for services increased, and it was evident that people were getting together again. The state data shows that sexually transmitted infection (STI) notifications have dropped during the pandemic but it’s not clear if this is because less people are getting tested. People are still having sex and people are still getting STIs.” Like most other departments, the sexual health service started to explore the online world – switching to an integrated telehealth and face-to-face model of care,

(Left to right): Dr Catriona Ooi, Nurse Susie and Allied Health Manager Dash

depending upon patient need. This included external pathology and specimen collection, community pharmacy direct scripts (via email and fax) and medication home delivery. Sexual Health Nurse Susie said the clinic actually started to see new clients due to the unique situations created by the pandemic. “We have new clients with chronic health needs ‘stuck here’ due to travel restrictions, unable to return to their country of origin,” she said. “(They have) no access to their medication/s or usual care, compounded by no Medicare or Centrelink entitlements. The sexual health service has ensured their care and medications are uninterrupted through partnerships in primary care and other key stakeholders.” Allied Health Manager Dash said while there has always been a slight stigma for those seeking sexual health

treatment, and the pandemic only served to exacerbate this for some. “Some patients who have perhaps sought or engaged in casual sex beyond the COVID-19 public health restrictions may feel an extra layer of stigma or concern about disclosing this,” she said. “We offer the same non- judgemental and confidential service to all patients – maintaining a focus on sexual health, safety and well-being. “We have re-enforced the need for vaccination and public health measures at the same time as understanding the unique circumstances that people are experiencing and the ways in which individuals and communities cope with stress.” As people start to spread the love post lockdown, Treeny and her team encouraged people to ensure they did so with their sexual health in mind.

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Ryde Hospital Royal North Shore Hospital


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A new digital dawn for NSLHD Northern Sydney Local Health District has unveiled its new digital strategy for the next five years.

Acting Director of ICT Ann Mirapuri said the team consulted with a highly engaged sample of NSLHD staff from across a range of disciplines to arrive at a comprehensive strategy for all. “Over the years many staff have told us that a

The new document, which can be read by visiting bit. ly/3AD5V3c, is not just focussed on staff behind a computer. It’s that sort of buy-in that pleased Senior Manager for Investment and Service Delivery for Information Communications and Technology’s (ICT) Michael Bishop. “What was really exciting to see with the creation of our digital strategy is that this isn’t just an ICT strategy,” he said. “As we engaged with our clinical services and key leaders across the district, it became apparent very early on that this digital strategy would be about how we use digital health technology

clear technology strategy defining what we will and will not do is important to their roles,” she said. “Providing a great digital experience for our patients, automating mundane tasks, ensuring real time collaboration, improving telehealth and remote monitoring, enhancing the connectedness of systems and using the data we collect to make sound decisions were some of the things you told us. “We have taken this into Manuela Ferreira (pictured on the front page) said that despite the impact of spinal pain, it’s rarely due to serious disease and usually gets better with time. “Our spine is strong and old concepts like back pain is caused by poor posture or bending are no longer supported by research,” she said. “The latest findings show that there are no right and wrong postures for the spine, as long as we keep moving and changing positions frequently. “The current advice from researchers is to keep working and remain as active as possible. It’s also important

Staff involved in developing the new digital strategy

a clear direction and priorities for the ICT team for the next five years.” Chief Nursing and Midwifery Information Officer Sally Duncan was also thrilled to see the strategy come to fruition.

and data to improve patient care, increase collaboration within and across teams and operate with a greater level of insight into the wellbeing of our patients and our service delivery.” “This is a comprehensive roadmap that will continue to improve digital health capabilities by supporting our staff and our patients to be better connected in our district,” she said. Kolling researchers challenge old concepts to improve care To mark World Spine Day on October 16, the Back Pain account and have developed the Digital Strategy that sets

to limit the use of strong medications and injections, and to consider the role of surgical procedures as many have limited benefit in the long term. “Our Back Pain Research team is continuing our program to help those suffering from spinal pain and is conducting several ground-breaking studies. “Our research is focusing on broadening our knowledge around the efficacy and safety of the most common surgical procedures, and the development of innovative digital approaches to bring the best care to patients with spinal pain.”

Research team at the Kolling Institute is urging those who experience the condition to adopt the latest advice and keep moving. Spinal pain is extremely common, affecting around 800 million people globally. The condition compromises social, family and work activities, and is the main reason Australians retire involuntarily. The lower back and neck are most commonly affected, with those over 75 suffering the most. Head of the Kolling’s Back Pain Research team Professor




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