NSLHD News 9 February 2024


Main story Recognising safety and quality Graduates of the NSLHD Applied Safety and Quality Program were recently recognised in a ceremony at Royal North Shore Hospital Page 4 Short blurb Read more on Page x

Translated resource booklet launched Page 4

allied health staff named finalists for excellence awards Page 5


Message from the chief executive

Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM

As we embrace the new year, the Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) is thrilled to share some remarkable developments that reflect our commitment to excellence in healthcare and innovation. We are delighted to welcome 90 new intern doctors, marking the commencement of their medical careers within our district. Their arrival signifies fresh perspectives and dedication to advancing healthcare for our community. In our ongoing efforts to prioritise health on a global scale, we are actively working on finalising the Planetary Health Framework, which we expect to publish in mid-March. This framework underscores our dedication to sustainable practices and the well- being of both our community and the environment. Anticipation is building for the Exceptional People Awards and the imminent establishment of the AI Committee, reflecting our commitment to recognising outstanding contributions and embracing cutting-edge technology in our healthcare initiatives. Our exceptional staff members continue to shine, with recent accolades for Professor Georgina Long AO, a medical oncologist at RNSH, and her colleague, Professor Richard Scolyer AO from NSW Health Pathology and Sydney Local Health District. They were jointly named the 2024 Australians of the Year, a well-deserved recognition of their outstanding contributions to healthcare. NSLHD Clinical Director of Nuclear Medicine, Professor Paul Roach, has been honoured with the title of Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to nuclear medicine and medical research. Professor Roach has played a pivotal role in establishing Royal North Shore Hospital’s Nuclear Medicine and Positron Emission Tomography service as one of Australia’s leading centres in the field.

We were delighted to host the year one medical student orientation for the The University of Sydney Northern Clinical School, which includes a diverse group of postgraduate, domestic, and international students. This marks the beginning of their journey towards becoming future healthcare leaders. Looking ahead, we are committed to expanding our research and academic partnerships, with a particular focus on advancing our ambition for clinical trials expansion. Our dedication to making trials a core component of health service delivery is reinforced by the inspirational gift of $20 million from Kay Van Norton and Greg Poche, supporting the critical work of clinical trials within our district. I am pleased to announce that Dr Michelle Mulligan OAM has accepted my invitation to be appointed as Executive Medical Director for NLSHD, commencing February. Michelle will also continue with her part-time clinical work as one of our senior anaesthetists. I would also extend heartfelt thanks to Associate Professor Chris Dennis for his dedicated service and leadership as the outgoing Medical Executive Director for Northern Sydney Local Health District. Chris’s commitment, generosity with his time, and valuable contributions, especially during the COVID response, have been greatly appreciated, and I look forward to his continued leadership in his role as a senior medical advisor in our district. We express our gratitude to our dedicated staff and partners for their commitment to advancing healthcare and look forward to a year filled with innovation, collaboration, and positive health outcomes. Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Dr Vibha Patil, Brian Kim, Dr Karen Bracken, Amanda Purcell and Dr Vicky Duong

Philanthropic support building our research expertise A collection of researchers will develop their skills and establish crucial new collaborations following generous funding through the Skipper Charitable Trust.

in Australia. Brian Kim from the Neuromuscular Imaging Research Laboratory will visit the United States to work with colleagues at the Northwestern University in Chicago. Brian is establishing machine learning methods to automatically quantify shoulder soft tissue in patients needing surgical repairs. Dr Vibha Patil from the Meniere’s Disease Neuroscience Lab will travel to Spain to build on her work into the genetics of Meniere’s Disease, a debilitating disorder of the inner ear. Amanda Purcell, a PhD student in the Renal Laboratory, will also travel to Spain and the UK to further her studies around predicting gestational diabetes in early pregnancy. Amanda is set to learn cutting-edge techniques, complementing her growing knowledge in this field and strong analytical skills. Professor Elliott said these opportunities would not be possible without the financial boost delivered through the Skipper Charitable Trust. “I would like to thank the family behind the trust for their wonderful ongoing support of our early and mid-career researchers,” he said. “Their help is directly strengthening our research expertise and increasing our long term impact.”

Six Kolling Institute researchers have received a 2024 Beryl and Jack Jacobs Travel Award, enabling them to travel for conferences and work with experts across the globe. Academic Director Professor James Elliott was thrilled to announce the successful recipients, saying each researcher demonstrated how their travel opportunity will broaden their research expertise and lead to exciting new progress. Dr Karen Bracken from the Osteoarthritis Clinical Research Group will travel to the University of Bristol to work with the team at the renowned Bristol Trials Centre. There she will gain a better understanding of recent advances in clinical trials, directly supporting her role as a clinical trials program lead. Dr Barbara Lucas from the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research will attend the Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine Conference in Cairns to present her ground-breaking research from the Best START trial into early intervention in children with Cerebral Palsy. Dr Vicky Duong from the Osteoarthritis Clinical Research Group will travel to the United States and Canada to work with researchers at Harvard University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Toronto. This is set to be a valuable opportunity for Vicky to expand her international networks following her successful Category I NHMRC funded project



Graduates of the program were recognised at RNSH

Recognising safety and quality Graduates of the 2023 NSLHD Applied Safety and Quality Program were recently recognised in a ceremony at Royal North Shore Hospital. Last year the district introduced the program to staff members and over the year there were 13 graduates who work across NSLHD. Graduates of the program gained expertise in healthcare safety and quality and are entitled to university credits towards subjects related to safety and quality at several partner universities. The program was completed in a practical nature, with 70 per cent of learning taking place in the workplace, which included

leading an improvement project and completing learning application activities. NSLHD Board Deputy Chair Emeritus Professor Mary Chiarella and Chief Executive Anthony Schembri attended the ceremony and presented the graduates of the program with their certificates. Anthony thanked the graduates for taking part in the program. “Congratulations to all of our graduates and thank you for your leadership and passion to ensure we continue to provide the best and highest quality care for our community,” he said.

Translated resource booklet launched A set of four new translations for the ‘When a Relative or Friend Dies in Hospital’ booklet has been launched across the district.

in hospital can be a distressing and overwhelming time and information on what to do next and where to get support if needed can be very helpful,” she said. The translated booklets were an initiative of the RNSH social work department and have been funded by the Tomorrow Trust.

The booklet provides valuable information to assist families and loved ones who may know someone who has passed away in hospital. The translations of the bereavement booklet, which will now be available in

simplified Chinese, Armenian, Italian and Korean, provides targeted information to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients and consumers to ensure there is equitable access to the valuable information. Royal North Shore Hospital Bereavement Coordinator Teresa Tyacke said the booklets will also help to alleviate some of the stress

and confusion for CALD families and loved ones. “Having a loved one die

RNSH Bereavement Coordinator Teresa Tyacke and social worker Nicole Loizou at the RNSH launch of the booklets



2024 Excellence in Allied Health Awards finalists Four allied health professionals from across the district have been selected as finalists in the NSW Health Excellence in Allied Health Awards. This recognition is a significant accomplishment for the Workforce Planning and Talent Development – Allied Health portfolio, in collaboration with the Chief Allied Health Officer. The awards serve as a commendation for the unwavering passion, dedication, and invaluable contributions made by allied health professionals and their support staff across NSW. The award event will be held on the February 28.

Kerry Crannis, Child Life Therapy, Child and Adolescent Award, finalist for Allied Health Professional of the Year Kerry has worked as a child life therapist at RNSH for six years, where she said her role has been to make the whole hospital journey as positive as possible. She does this through educating and supporting children about procedures, which can include medical play activities in the playroom. “I love my job,” she said. “If I can put a smile on a child’s face, even if it’s for five seconds, I can walk away and think I’ve made a difference to that child and that family on that day.” Avindu Vithanage, Senior Orthopaedic/Fracture Clinic Physiotherapist at Hornsby Hospital, finalist in the Allied Health Educator Award A physiotherapist with NSW Health for nine years, Avindu said education was vital for the future of the profession. “It ensures we’re striving for the best possible care standards for patients.” He also loved his job as he was able to help people going through a hard time in their life. “To see them come in with essentially sometimes life-changing injuries but being able to make a big difference in their outcome, both from a physical, mental and emotional point of view as well, is really rewarding.” Mia Whitehall, speech pathologist, Royal North Shore Hospital, finalist in the Early Career Allied Health Professional of the Year category. Mia has been at Royal North Shore Hospital for two years. “It’s really nice to be recognised and it’s also a confidence boost knowing that I’m doing a good job,” she said. “I have always wanted to work in the acute hospital setting and I think recently going into cancer care and working with such a vulnerable population, has been really rewarding — helping them achieve their goals and supporting them through treatment as well.” Meryl Abao, allied health assistant and finalist in the Allied Health Assistant / Technician / Support Person of the Year category Meryl has worked as an allied health assistant in the physiotherapy department at Royal North Shore for four years. She said while it can be a tough job, she finds it fulfilling and has enjoyed working in various wards, including neurology, spinal and aged care. “Every area has different treatments and I like having the opportunity to see and treat patients in each one,” she said.



Martin Good RNSH NF Clinical Nurse Specialist, Tina Gonzalez Genetic Counsellor, Ruth Lindsay CTF Head of Support Services, Sue-Faye Siow NF Clinical Geneticist and Neurologist, Leonie Crowe NF Social Worker, Alicia Zadeian CTF Support Coordinator, Sally Maspero CHW NF Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Open Day Aids Young Adults with Neurofibromatoses The first Neurofibromatoses (NF) transition open day took place at RNSH, uniting various services. It aimed to assist young adults shifting from paediatric to adult NF services in NSW. The collaborative event involved RNSH Neurofibromatosis Clinical Service, Children’s Hospital Westmead (CHW) Neurogenetics Service, CHW Trapeze Transition Team, and Children’s Tumour Foundation. Neurofibromatoses are a group of inherited conditions that make people more likely to develop tumours. These conditions, Neurofibromatosis Type 1, NF2-associated schwannomatosis, and Schwannomatosis, can lead to serious health issues, especially in young adults, with higher chances of illness and death. People with NF need complex care involving various medical areas. Transitioning from child to adult care poses a specific challenge for these patients. The hybrid event, both online and in person, provided crucial information for transitioning to adult care and facilitated engagement with NF clinical and support services. Young adults and parents expressed satisfaction, emphasising the value of the day. Positive feedback indicates interest in future events focused on improving transition care and enhancing the patient experience for young people with NF. “This successful event was thanks to the massive effort by the organising team and dedicated patients and their families who generously contributed to improving transition care for individuals with NF across NSW. We hope to expand this open day nationwide and look forward to engaging with young adults with NF across Australia,” said Dr Sue-Faye Siow, Staff Specialist Clinical Geneticist and Neurologist.

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RNSH farewells veteran audiologist and speech pathologist RNSH has farewelled veteran audiologist and speech pathologist Hans Satyan.

multidisciplinary teams throughout my career and I’m grateful to have helped so many patients,” he said. “I would like to thank all nursing staff, allied health staff and my professional colleagues for their encouragement and continued support throughout my career.”

Hans has worked across a variety of public and private roles throughout his career and most notably worked for 41 years as the sole senior clinical audiologist at the hospital. Hans has made significant contributions to vestibular function assessment and neuro- audiology diagnostic services as the hospital’s sole audiologist. Speaking on his career, Hans said the best part of being an audiologist and speech pathologist has been being able to help so many people. “As the sole audiologist at the hospital, I have always done my best to provide the best patient care in the area of hearing and vestibular health,” he said. “I always tried to be flexible and adaptive to facilitate patient needs which I am proud of.” Hans also credited the wide range of teams and health care professionals he was able to work with throughout his career. “I’ve been able to work across many

Hans Satyan

Former chef’s cancer-friendly Asian recipes The side effects of radiotherapy treatment meant John Wong found it difficult to eat and drink. He also found that the diet he was being recommended was not suitable. He had a degree of lactose intolerance and didn’t usually eat much dairy. “I fell back on softer food and a Chinese type of diet,” he said.

It was part of a package of culturally relevant information for CALD Head and Neck and Gastrointestinal cancer patients produced by NSLHD staff and a category winner at the 2023 NSW Multicultural Health Communication Awards.

Two years on, some of his recipes are now included in “Soft, Sweet and Savoury”, a cookery book written by Royal North Shore Hospital dieticians specifically for Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin head and neck cancer patients. John worked as a chef years ago at his parent’s Chinese restaurant in Maroubra so drew on his experience for inspiration. However, he modified the ingredients to suit head and neck cancer patients. “I fully appreciate what kind of symptoms that people can get,” he says, adding they can range from having difficulties chewing or swallowing to nausea. For example, he recommends tofu, boneless fish fillet and egg. “There is a lot of protein and it’s soft.” He advises using fresh mushrooms over dried shitake ones and avoiding nuts and peppery flavours. “Peppers and chillies really irritate your throat – in my case anyway.” The cookery book has been translated into Korean and simplified/traditional Chinese.

Chef John Wong



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We understand that it can be stressful and worrying when you are unwell or injured. We are working hard to care for you. Abuse and aggression are never okay .

December 2023 © NSW Health. SHPN (WR) 231009.

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