NSLHD News January 31 2023

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


Main story drug and alcohol services launch new ward The $1.5 million refurbishment sees the service transition to the Douglas Building at RNSH. Page 3 Short blurb Read more on Page x

Ryde Hospital schematic designs and flythrough released Pages 6 & 7

New research testing tendon suitability for knee surgery Page 5


Message from the board chair Trevor Danos AM

I would also like to give a warm welcome to two new Board members who have joined the Northern Sydney Local Health District Board this year, Adam Johnston and the Hon Patricia Forsythe AM. Adam is well known to many within the district. Adam is a solicitor and is also a consumer advisor to the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Directorate and has served on a number of advisory and governance committees across the district. Patricia most recently served as the Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand and been a board member for a number of organisations including the NSW Port Authority, Destination NSW, Hunter Development Corporation, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, Macquarie University Council and Cricket NSW. Adam and Patricia will bring a wealth of experience and I look forward to working with them and the rest of the Board throughout 2023. Another pleasing note to start the year, two of our staff members have been named as finalists for the NSW Health Excellence in Allied Health Awards. I would like to congratulate Senior Radiation Therapist Leigh Ambrose from the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre and Student Unit Supervisor Katrina Travassaros from the Occupational Therapy Department at Royal North Shore Hospital. It is a fantastic achievement and I wish them all the best for when the awards are announced on 23 February. Again, I would like to thank every one of you for your continued efforts. I hope this year brings good health and happiness to everyone and I look forward to following all the amazing and inspiring activities that will be taking place across the district in 2023.

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2023. I would like to start off by wishing you all the very best for 2023 and thanking those who worked throughout the festive period to continue to provide high-quality care to our community. For those staff able to take some time off I hope you managed to have some well-deserved rest. 2022 was another big year across the district with many highlights and achievements, all whilst managing COVID-19 within the community. On behalf of the NSLHD Board, I would like to extend a big thank you to every staff member, carer, and volunteer across the district. The resilience, hard work and high level of care provided to our patients and their families has been nothing short of phenomenal. 2023 is shaping up to be another big year. Some of the things we have to look forward to include the commencement of the Ryde Hospital redevelopment and welcoming our first patients to the Manly Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice. We will also be continuing our work on diversity and inclusion and our sustainability and planetary health efforts to ensure we have a clear pathway to meeting the district’s 2035 zero carbon goal. We will also be working to continually support our staff and patients through the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly during any spikes in case numbers that we suspect may continue into 2023. Whilst we have returned to life much as we knew it before the pandemic, the safety of our staff and patients remains paramount and we will continue to take measures to ensure our hospitals and services are as safe as possible. This year the Australia Day Honours recognised five of our very talented and dedicated clinicians and staff, including our former chief executive Deb Willcox. It is a privilege to have so many people from our district honoured for their distinguished careers in medicine and health. I would like to congratulate Deb Willcox, who was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM), Professor Gemma Figtree (AM), Dr Peter Roberts awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), Dr Raymond Cook (OAM) and Professor Sue Kurrle who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

Trevor Danos AM Board Chair Northern Sydney Local Health District



RNSH General Manager Alison Zecchin, Interim CE Lee Gregory, MHDA Service Director Kingsley Waterson, Director of MHDA Andrea Taylor and Senior Project Manager Alicia Duffy at the official opening

drug and alcohol services transition to new ward The Northern Sydney Local Health District inpatient drug and alcohol services unit has launched its new facility at Royal North Shore Hospital.

“I’d like to acknowledge Deb Willcox’s vision and support for this project,” he said. “In 2019 she made it her mission to find a new home for the inpatient drug and alcohol service and here we are.”

The unit, formerly located at the Herbert St clinic for the past 34 years, transitions to its $1.5 million newly refurbished ward within

the Douglas Building. The move will enable

improved access to facilities and services for both clients and staff. Interim Chief Executive Lee Gregory said the new facility will ultimately improve the experience of patients and staff. “I know the journey to this day has been long, and I wish our patients and staff the very best of wishes in your long- awaited new home,” he said. “We’ve already has some patients use the new space and I believe staff and clients are extremely happy with the new surroundings.” Lee also acknowledged the efforts of former NSLHD CE Deb Willcox in enabling the transition.

As part of the upgrade, the ward dons Aboriginal art which were designed and implemented by Peter Whitton (left) and Shellie Christian (right)



Deb Willcox named the first inductee to NSLHD Honour Roll Former Northern Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive Deb Willcox has recently been inducted to the NSLHD Honour Roll as its first inductee. The NSLHD Board established the honour roll in 2022 to recognise outstanding strong, open, transparent and respectful relationships with staff at all levels and in all positions, the Board, university partners, the Ministry of Health and all other stakeholders.

“Deb was always a team player who set a high standard on culture, trust, respect, productivity and behaviours, who empowered colleagues and built strong team loyalty.” The NSLHD Honour

contributions or distinguished and eminent service by an individual to NLSHD and its community. Deb, who was the NSLHD CE from 2017 to 2022, has been recognised for her transformative leadership in key areas of culture such as diversity, research, partnerships, sustainability and planetary health. The Board also credited Deb for her outstanding leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which included regular video updates to staff, visits to the health facilities and acknowledging staff with commemorative pins to thank them for their efforts. NSLHD Board Chair Trevor Danos AM said the induction of Deb to the honour roll is a testament to the positive impact she made to everyone across the district. “The Board is delighted to recognise and celebrate Deb’s service,” he said. “During her time at NSLHD Deb built Northern Sydney Local Health District welcomed 92 intern doctors last week as they started their careers in medicine. The medical graduates will join the ranks of close to 1100 medical graduate interns across the state as they embark on a supervised year of practice rotating between metropolitan, regional and rural hospitals.

Roll will be maintained on the

NSLHD website and

displayed in NSLHD

facilities and will give details of those who have been appointed. NSLHD welcomes newest intake of intern doctors

NSLHD Board Chair Trevor Danos presents former NSLHD CE Deb Willcox with the NSLHD Honour Roll certificate

“The internship year will help them build their skills and gain diverse experience across a range of medical specialties in metropolitan, rural and regional areas “We are all excited to welcome them into our network and look forward to working with them.”

They will be provided on- the-job education, training and vocational support. Professor John Vassiliadis, Director of Prevocational Education and Training, said the new graduates were eager to start their training program, which involves two years of supervised practice in order to become independent safe practitioners. “The new doctors are excited to start learning from our experienced and highly skilled medical, nursing and allied staff across the district,” he said.

NSLHD’s newest intern doctors are excited to commence their internship year



PhD student Dylan Ashton Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke

New research testing tendon suitability for knee surgery With an increasing number of people

“These issues have increased the popularity of using tendon allografts, which are sourced from deceased human tissue donors. “Currently there are strict limitations around the type of allografts used and age limits where tissue banks will only accept donors up to the age of 65 years. “We expect our research findings will now prompt a review of these restrictions. “We mechanically assessed the strength of nine tendons from the lower leg, three commonly used as allografts, and six new candidates. “As part of our research we investigated the impact of donor age, sex, height and weight on the biomechanical properties of the graft. “Importantly we found donor age was not associated with weaker tendons even when including donors into their 90s - and the strength of the new tendons was higher than the strength of tendons which are commonly used as allografts.” Lab Director, Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke said the findings are important as it means there could be a much broader range of tendon options available to surgeons and their patients and this could directly improve outcomes for those who experience this increasingly common ACL injury.

suffering anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, researchers at the Kolling Institute say a broader range of tendon grafts could be successfully adopted by surgeons undertaking knee reconstructions. The research, which is the second-largest human tendon study ever published, is prompting calls for tissue banks to review current age restrictions and the range of tendons approved for grafts. The study comes as Australia continues to record one of the highest rates of ACL injuries in the world. Interestingly, these injuries are not limited to professional athletes, but are impacting all age groups, particularly children in the five to 14 age range. Study lead PhD student Dylan Ashton said if you were to rupture your ACL today and opt for surgical treatment, your orthopaedic surgeon would most likely use your hamstring tendons as a graft to reconstruct your ACL. “This approach however, can cause additional pain and create functional deficits. It can also be difficult to source enough healthy tendon in younger patients, and those who have re- ruptured their ACL,” he said.

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.



Ryde Hospital schematic designs and flythrough released The redevelopment of Ryde Hospital reached another major milestone earlier this month with the designs of the new hospital precinct unveiled and early works due to kick off in February.

The designs follow significant engagement with the local community, clinicians and key healthcare stakeholders as well as feedback from staff and consumers. The feedback has informed key design considerations such as heritage, connection to country, the environment and green space to create a welcoming environment for patients, staff, and visitors. Central to the design is connections with existing onsite heritage buildings including Denistone House and The Stables, and the Blue Gum High Forest, as well as green spaces. HPAC has been appointed the early works contractor for the redevelopment and will commence works in the coming weeks, with main works expected to begin in late 2023.

Ryde Hospital General Manager Heather Gough said the designs showcase the expansion and upgrade of the hospital which will support the health needs of the community. “The hospital will be transformed with new and enhanced health services,” Heather said. “It will deliver a new and expanded emergency department and intensive care unit, new theatres, new purpose-built ambulatory care centre, new paediatric short stay unit and expanded medical imaging.”

Australia day honours list 2023 The recipients of the 2023 Australia Day Honours were announced on 26 January and a number of Northern Sydney Local Health District staff have been recognised for the top honours. NSLHD Interim Chief Executive Lee Gregory said being awarded an Australia Day Honour is a real tribute to hard work, dedication and commitment to making a real difference in our community. “The awards recognise outstanding service and contribution to the community,” he said. “A huge congratulations to all of the recipients who we are proud to say have had a major positive impact on the district.”

Professor Sue Kurrle AO Professor Susan Kurrle has been appointed an AO (an Officer of the Order of Australia) for distinguished service to medicine as a geriatrician, and to research into dementia and cognitive decline. She is an eminent geriatrician for NSLHD, specialising in the areas of dementia, frailty, successful ageing, and intergenerational care. Sue is the expert geriatrician leading the work on the internationally award-winning ABC TV documentary series ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’. In 2022, Sue received the Sidney Sax medal for outstanding contributions to the development and improvement of Australia’s healthcare system. Professor Gemma Figtree AM Royal North Shore Hospital interventional cardiologist and Kolling Institute researcher Professor Gemma Figtree has been appointed an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for her significant service to medicine. As one of Australia’s most high-profile women in cardiology, Gemma is a Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney, chair of the Federal Government’s 10- year Mission for Cardiovascular Health and co-leader of the Cardiovascular Theme for Sydney Health Partners. Gemma has dedicated her career to identifying the key mechanisms driving heart attack susceptibility. She combines her clinical work as an interventional cardiologist with lab research, involving large studies and clinical trials.



The early works will include internal refurbishment to prepare for the first phase of the redevelopment, demolition of three buildings at the rear of the site, partial demolition of ground level carparking and general site preparation earthworks. For more information about the redevelopment including the latest designs visit the websitewww. rydehospitalredevelopment. health.nsw.gov.au or Intranet http://intranet.nslhd.health. nsw.gov.au/Sectors/Ryde/ csp/Pages/default.aspx

The new designs give the community a detailed look at what to expect

Deb Willcox AM Former NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox has been appointed an AM for her significant service to health administration, and to the community. As NSLHD Chief Executive from 2017-2022, Deb had a huge impact on areas including diversity and inclusion, research, partnerships, sustainability and planetary health, as well as leading the district through the COVID-19 pandemic. She was the former Director of Executive and Ministerial Services, NSW Health from 2007-2011, General Manager at Royal Price Alfred Hospital from 2013-2015, and Director of Operations at Sydney Local Health District from 2015-2017. She is a Board Member at the NORTH Foundation, Kolling Institute and HealthShare NSW, and a member of the Advisory Board, Australian Institute of Health Service Management. Deb took on the role of Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Planning at the NSW Ministry of Health last year.

Dr Peter Roberts OAM Ryde Hospital Emergency Department Staff Specialist Dr Peter Roberts has been awarded an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) for his service to emergency medicine. Peter is the Director of the Acute and Critical Care Network at NSLHD and has been the Director of Emergency Medicine at Ryde Hospital since 2007. Peter is also the Co- Chair of the Deteriorating Patient Committee and Ryde Clinical Council. Peter is the founder of Peripheral Hospitals Emergency Medicine Conference (PHEMC) and has been the chair since 2002. He was the former president of the Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine (ASEM) and was a member of the Australian medical team following the Boxing Day Tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004.

Dr Raymond Cook OAM Dr Raymond Cook has been awarded an OAM for his service to medicine as a neurosurgeon. Raymond has made significant contributions to neurosurgery at Royal North Shore Hospital where he has served as head of the department from 1994-1996 and 2006- 2012. Raymond is a cofounder and current Chairman of Sydney Neuro- Oncology Group (SNOG) charity which funds research into brain tumours, education and enhanced nursing care of patients suffering from a brain tumour.



Northern Sydney Local Health District is committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2035 What are we doing to achieve this?


279,876 Since 2014 more than kilowatts has been saved every hour thanks to solar, LED lighting and other measures.

5000 Over the last year

lights were replaced at Royal North Shore Hospital, Mona Vale Hospital and Brookvale Community Health Centre with LED lights. The use of solar has reduced energy consumption from the grid by 1,814,356 kWh translating to a cost saving of $317,240


Our hospitals have all reduced their water usage dramatically since 2015.

Royal North Shore Hospital

Hornsby Hospital

Ryde Hospital

Macquarie Hospital





has been sustainably disposed of to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in landfill resulting in estimated savings of $325,000 and 2600 tonnes of carbon 60,805kg of electronic waste

Environmentally efficient chillers and boilers have been installed at Ryde, Macquarie and Hornsby hospitals

220 toilets replaced with water-saving duel flush toilets

Do you want to get involved? Email NSLHD-PlanetaryHealth@health.nsw.gov.au

Northern Sydney Local Health District


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