NSLHD News July 9

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


Main story Short blurb Y r ing circle at ryde T e construction of a yarning circle is underway at Ryde Hospital.

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International Non-Binary Day Page 7



Message from the Chief Executive Deb Willcox

As the situation at Royal North Shore Hospital continues to improve following the recent COVID-19 exposure I wanted to thank you all again for everything that has been achieved to keep the hospital operating and safe as we responded. Patients and staff identified as close and casual contacts continued to receive negative COVID-19 test results. The latest reports from those who have tested positive is they are progressing well and they are being looked after by staff in the virtual hospital. The hard work, dedication and diligence all of you have shown toward keeping our patients, each other and our community safe over the past two weeks or so has been extraordinary. From the professionalism of staff on the affected wards and the leadership of hospital management, right through to those from other facilities who have put their hands up to help out – everyone has played their role in our shared success to date. While the impact of the necessary restrictions will continue to be felt for another week or so, it is heartening to see the number of staff who needed to stay in isolation fall below 300. This is largely down to the fast and forensic work of staff tracking the outbreak, assessing risk and reclassifying contacts. The staff in isolation are being offered every support and they are in our thoughts as they continue to do what is required for the benefit of us all.

As well as ensuring our staff are looked after, more than 60 patients from the affected wards have now been discharged to complete their isolation period from the comfort of their own home. Each patient has had their situation assessed and will continue to abide by the public health requirements and I thank you for the care and compassion you have shown them. It is important we continue to do all the right things – we are currently doing very well, and I know we are all determined to see us back to business as usual as quickly and as safely as possible. This week, together with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters we are celebrating NAIDOC Week, albeit in a modified and COVID-safe way. NAIDOC Week celebrates more than 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. This year’s theme is ‘Heal Country’ which calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. While we may not have been able to enjoy the usual celebrations, hopefully we can all come together soon and honour the world’s oldest continuing culture. I would like to thank the Aboriginal Health Service team who is working hard to ensure we are able to do so.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



YARNING CIRCLE AT RYDE The construction of a yarning circle is underway at Ryde Hospital to help foster collaboration between Northern Sydney Local Health District and the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Director of Aboriginal Health Peter Shine said: “Yarning circles have been used for thousands of years by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have discussions in an inclusive and collaborative manner whilst building respectful relationships, and passing knowledge. “At Ryde, the yarning circle offers a respectful place for people to come together to reflect, learn and yarn. “All staff and visitors are welcome to visit and use the yarning circle.” The yarning circle is located next to the community mental health Naidoc week NAIDOC Week 2021 will be celebrated from 4-11 July 2021 around Australia. Director of Aboriginal Health Peter Shine said: “This year, NAIDOC Week will be celebrated differently to ensure we can protect those most vulnerable in our community such as Elders and those with pre- existing health conditions from COVID-19. We will celebrate together as soon as COVID-19 allows.

Ryde Hospital General Manager Heather Gough and Deputy Director of Aboriginal Health Paul Weir at the site of the yarning circle at Ryde

centre under the shade of an old jacaranda tree, and is managed by the NSLHD Aboriginal Health Service together with the Ryde Hospital executive team. The privacy that the site offers is ideal for the nature of the yarning circle and will create opportunities for building respectful relationships in a culturally safe and welcoming environment. The construction of the yarning circle is being undertaken by NPM Indigenous, a majority Indigenous owned company representing the “No matter whether you celebrate at home or in community, there are lots of ways you can honour the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this NAIDOC Week.” Below are our top ideas to help you celebrate NAIDOC Week 2021 in a COVID-safe way. • Virtually attend one of the many of the online

Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri Nations. They place emphasis on constructing culturally inclusive environments that have a positive influence within the community. The project at Ryde is the first of a series of yarning circles that will be established at Royal North Shore, Hornsby and Mona Vale hospitals. The yarning circle at Ryde was due to launch during NAIDOC Week – 4-11 July – however due to COVID restrictions, will officially launch at a later date. events available in the NAIDOC Week Official Calendar • Download and display this year’s NAIDOC Week poster • Call someone in your community to have a chat about this year’s theme ‘Heal Country!’ and what it means to you • Watch special NAIDOC Week programming on SBS/NITV and ABC



(Left to right): Professor Ashley Craig, Professor Paul Glare and Professor James Middleton

Australian first study to alleviate pain for those with spinal cord injuries

Researchers from the Kolling Institute will partner with international and Australian experts to examine an innovative approach to nerve pain for those with spinal cord injuries. Professors Ashley Craig, James Middleton and Paul Glare will join the study as chief investigators, after a $1.78 million grant from the Federal Government. Professor Craig said the study will investigate the effectiveness of an advanced interactive intervention to reduce nerve pain and improve function. “We often regard loss of mobility as the most serious impact of a spinal cord injury, but we have found people with this injury consistently indicate nerve pain is their most difficult and debilitating challenge,” he said. “We know that nerve pain affects up to 75 per cent of people with a spinal cord injury, and they describe the pain as burning, sharp, unbearable, unremitting and terrifying. Such pain is often linked with serious depression. “Current treatments often involve the use of antidepressants, anti-epileptics and opioids, but these medications provide limited pain relief to around 30 per cent of people and have a host of adverse side-effects related to addiction and kidney failure. “This means a large number of people

with a spinal cord injury continue to experience debilitating pain with no access to effective treatment options.” The five-year study will assess a new approach using an interactive gaming technology to reduce pain by helping to rectify the negative impact of the spinal cord injury on brain activity. Spinal cord injuries generally reduce the frequency of brain activity, so this highly- specialised game has been designed to encourage high frequency activity and beneficial changes to the brain. Professor Craig welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the promising, collaborative trial. “Around 200 people a year suffer a spinal cord injury in NSW, and while that number may not seem large, these catastrophic injuries have a tremendous impact on individuals and their families,” he said. “If we’re able to effectively reduce their nerve pain without major side effects, it’ll have an immeasurable impact on their health, their ability to work and function, and specifically their mental health as well.” The trial will bring together researchers from the Kolling as well as the University of Sydney, University of NSW, University of Technology and the University of Washington.



Parkinson’s Clinical Nurse Consultant Suliana Manuofetoa and neurologist Dr Omar Ahmad who is the hospital’s head of neurology

NEUROLOGY PARKINSON’S DISEASE CLINIC a FIRST FOR HORNSBY For the first time in Hornsby, residents with Parkinson’s disease or suspected of having the illness can now access a public clinic for treatment in the area.

“This clinic and associated services will have a major impact in the way in which Parkinson’s disease is managed in the district,” Dr Ahmad said. “It is a one stop shop for the care of Parkinson’s disease at all stages of illness and will have a meaningful impact on patient outcomes. “We are excited to be introducing this new model of Parkinson’s care to Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital.” Patients are also seen to by the nurse, whose role is unique being one of only a few dedicated Parkinson’s disease clinical nurse consultants, partly funded by Parkinson’s NSW. The clinic can diagnose Parkinson’s disease in new patients, conduct physical examinations, check medications and update treatment plans. The clinic also provides access to highly advanced Parkinson’s therapies. It complements the existing Parkinson’s rehabilitation clinic which is available at the hospital.

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital now has a neurology Parkinson’s disease outpatient clinic, where neurologists and a dedicated Parkinson’s disease nurse see patients. Previously, patients who were awaiting a diagnosis or needed follow up treatment for Parkinson’s would need to wait to attend the clinic at Royal North Shore Hospital or attend a private clinic. Parkinson’s Clinical Nurse Consultant Suliana Manuofetoa said: “we have received very positive feedback from patients, some who have been waiting to attend other clinics or who have had to pay for private treatment. “Patients who live in the area can now come to Hornsby Hospital and be seen.” Local GPs can refer patients to the clinic, which is led by neurologist Dr Omar Ahmad who is the hospital’s head of neurology.

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



Global focus on musculoskeletal health Royal North Shore Hospital

health systems have continued to under- prioritise these conditions. “This important new initiative will provide a global-level strategic response, guiding international health reform and providing a framework for countries to adapt to suit their local needs,” she said. The blueprint focuses on critical areas for reform, including community education, leadership and governance, health financing models, service delivery models that support integrated and person-centred care, equitable access to medicines and technologies, building capacity in the health workforce to deliver the right care at the right time, population health surveillance, and research and innovation. “The blueprint is practical and can inform what a

clinician researchers are part of an international team calling for musculoskeletal health to become a global priority, addressing a current lack of funding for the world’s leading cause of pain. The project team found the management of musculoskeletal health is under-prioritised despite its impact on the community, and devised an action plan to address this gap. It mapped the current landscape for musculoskeletal health, identified trends in national health policies and developed a blueprint to prioritise musculoskeletal health. Head of the Department of Rheumatology and Kolling Institute researcher Professor Lyn March said more than 1.5 billion people live with a musculoskeletal condition, such as low back pain, fractures, arthritis and osteoporosis, but despite calls to action, bowel cancer awareness Royal North Shore Hospital’s Ward 8B recently celebrated Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Red Apple Day to raise awareness of Australia’s second deadliest cancer. Ward 8B is a gastroenterology, upper GI and colorectal surgery ward that provides care for patients with various surgical and medical issues including bowel cancer. As part of the celebrations, there were displays of

global strategic response might look like and how countries can respond to musculoskeletal health in order to arrest the increasing global burden of disability and cost,” Lyn said. The international team involved researchers from Curtin University, the Kolling Institute, the University of Sydney, the University of Toronto, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Kathmandu University and the University of Southern Denmark.

education booklets and fact sheets for visitors, patients and staff. Nursing staff brought in baked goods and raffle tickets were sold to raise money for Bowel Cancer Australia. The bestselling cupcakes were the Bristol Stool Chart cupcakes displaying all types of bowel motions.

Baskets full of red apples were also for sale but weren’t as popular as the baked sweet treats. The bake stall and raffle ticket sale raised more than $2100. Celebrations were held in mid-June, before the recent COVID-19 outbreak.



International Non-Binary People’s Day International Non-Binary People’s Day will be

celebrated on 14 July to raise awareness and bring to light issues faced by non-binary people around the world. First celebrated in 2012, the date was chosen for being exactly in between International Men’s Day and International Women’s Day. Non-binary, also known as gender queer, gender fluid and ‘enby’, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. To celebrate the day, the district’s LGBTQI+ network will be launching ally resources, share answers to commonly asked questions about non-binary, gender diversity and gender queer, and will be sharing stories from non-binary people. Executive assistant to the Northern Sydney Local Health District Director, Finance and Corporate Services, Tidge Backhouse is the co-chair of the district’s LGBTQI+ network and identifies as non-binary and queer. Tidge said there are many ways for people to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of their gender

Executive assistant to the Northern Sydney Local Health District Director, Finance and Corporate Services, Tidge Backhouse is the co-chair of the district’s LGBTQI+ network

identity. “Our language and the way we speak is often embedded with hidden gendered cues,” they said. “Allies are so beneficial in changing the culture and language we use. “For example, when given the opportunity, you can introduce yourself with your name and pronoun. “Stating your own pronouns remind people that it might not always be immediately obvious what pronoun someone uses and encourages others to do the same.” Tidge said since starting at NSLHD last year they have been lucky to feel welcome and supported to bring their authentic and full self to work, something that a lot of people may take for granted.

“Like any queer person my first few weeks were spent looking for cues and symbols that I was safe, respected and ‘allowed’ to participate,” Tidge said. “Not long after I started I saw the launch of the Diversity, Inclusion and LGBTQI+ network was a real symbol for me and I was delighted to take that as an opportunity to be visible and let my guard down and engage.” For more information about the LGBTGI+ network, please visit https://tinyurl. com/nlshdlgbtqiplus If you would like to get involved in the network or have any questions please contact: NSLHD-ODTeam@health. nsw.gov.au. Belonging program. “The formation of the

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