NSLHD News June 19

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


Royal north shore food pantry The Pantry, run by one of our dietitians and our volunteers at The Corner Shop, provides healthy food to malnourished patients at the hospital who don’t have access to nutritional products.

Read more on Page 3

staff recognised in queen’s birthday honours Page 4-5

ryde’s denistone house undergoes major restoration Page 6

Leaders in healthcare, partners in wellbeing


Message FROM the acting Chief executive Dr Tamsin Waterhouse

message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox

Our district is full of talented, passionate people across a range of fields – so it was fantastic to see some of them acknowledged as part of this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. The district had six honourees for services to medicine, health and research; a testament to the phenomenal work that goes on every day. I would like to extend my congratulations to Professor Rob Baxter AM, Professor Simon Finfer AO, Dr David Fahey AM, Dr Jennifer Martin OAM, Dr Tony Joseph AM and Professor Georgina Long AO on their honour. Our patients, staff and community are incredibly fortunate for your services to your field. The work you are doing has a great impact on the quality of life of many Australians. You can read more about their achievements on pages 4 and 5 of NSLHD News. A recent survey of patients who have attended our COVID-19 clinics has shown some outstanding results. More than 91 per cent of responding patients gave the care they received in the clinic five stars out of five, with the remaining nine per cent awarding four stars out of five. These results reflect the dedication and commitment of our clinic staff to making sure our community received the very best care at what can be a stressful time. Our community’s experience at our clinics is so important so we maintain high levels of testing in our community. This year has been a challenge for many of us, not only professionally but personally. From the recent bushfires that devastated our rural communities to the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted our hospitals and everyone in our community. Despite these events, we have continued to provide excellent patient care and support in the face of adversity.

released its quarterly report for our emergency department and elective surgery performance and I was proud to see our hospitals continued to perform well. Emergency Department attendances rose across the district by more than 3700 patients, but more than 81 per cent of our patients started their treatment on time. The biggest growth came from the triage five category or non-urgent patients, with a 63 per cent increase in the number of presentations to ED. More than 94 per cent of these patients started their treatment on time despite the increase. Our transfer of care performance as a district was also stellar, with 94.8 per cent of our patients having their care transferred from ambulance to emergency department staff within 30 minutes. Results for elective surgery were impacted due to the necessary suspension of surgery nationwide in March as we responded to COVID-19. NSW Health will soon host a roundtable with the public and private health service and clinicians to determine what additional measures the health system can employ to improve access to care for our community. I want to commend all of our wait list teams, surgical and nursing staff who have been working together to ensure as a district we ensure all patients get timely access to their surgery. I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you who have worked tremendously hard so far this year. Our community is incredibly fortunate to have your dedication and service.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District

The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) recently

2 NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 11| 19 JUNE 2020

stocking up the pantry for vulnerable patients For some people, tough times became even tougher during the COVID-19

pandemic, which is why the Royal North Shore Hospital Food Pantry is now more important than ever. The pantry, which is run by dietitian Vivian Au in conjunction with the volunteers at The Corner Shop, has been providing healthy food to patients in need since September. Vivian said it all came about when she was working with a colleague in the Liver Clinic. “We saw this need for a lot of our patients who were really unwell,” she said. “A lot of them were malnourished but they couldn’t follow through with the nutritional plan for whatever the reason; whether that is financially or a lack of access to nutritional foods. “It had an effect on what we were doing for them because we weren’t caring for the whole person, so we thought ‘why not try this out for a little bit?’” Vivian reached out to the

Corner Shop, who donated some seed money to start stocking the pantry, while also becoming its home. Soon enough, the pantry was operational with several patients per week accessing it through vouchers from staff across the whole hospital. “It’s still pretty grassroots but we’ve involved the nutrition department and some wards are pretty proactive with it,” Vivian said. “We’re creating an environment where people don’t need to fill in a questionnaire or provide personal details – they can access the pantry with the ticket provided to them by

staff that has no details other than the department name.” With The Corner Shop recently opening and patients returning to the hospital, Vivian said now was a crucial time to make sure the pantry could provide those in need with the right foods to support their wellbeing. “When we started we didn’t have a lot, so we relied on staff donations with the hope of working with other organisations, but of course we really appreciate our staff and their generosity,” she said. If you would like to get involved, please contact Vivian.Au@health.nsw.gov.au.

New investment in approach to osteoarthritis treatment Key research into the treatment of

Professor Hunter will lead a team of more than 20 researchers to conduct a series of studies to improve osteoarthritis treatment programs. “Our program of research will enhance the methods for disease modification trials and initiate novel trials to optimise the delivery of care for those with the disease,” he said. “These research initiatives, which can be directly incorporated into clinical practice, will make inroads into this prevalent and disabling disorder, and I anticipate will have an international impact. “The grant is a credit to my wonderful team, the marvellous colleagues I collaborate with and I remain humbled by the opportunity to make a difference for those living with osteoarthritis.”

osteoarthritis is set to be strengthened, with the Kolling Institute’s Professor David Hunter receiving a large National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) investigator grant. The highly competitive grant was awarded to the Florance and Cope Chair of Rheumatology for a five-year project to transform treatment options and delivery of care for osteoarthritis. Professor Hunter welcomed the grant, saying osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in Australia and across the world. “Despite the burden of the disease on the community, the current management of the condition is frequently inappropriate and costly. This is despite safe and effective options being available,” he said.



Dr Jennie Martin OAM

nslhd staff recognised in queen’s birthday honours NSLHD clinicians and researchers have been recognised for their service to medicine, health and research in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours. Each year, the honours are Dr David Fahey AM , senior staff specialist anaesthetist at RNSH. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to emergency

response organisations, and to medicine in the field of anaesthesia. David has been a volunteer with St John Ambulance NSW for 30 years and has been the Assistant Commissioner (Clinical) for the past six years. Dr Anthony (Tony) Joseph AM is co-director of trauma at RNSH. He was made a Member of the Order of Australian (AM) for his significant service to emergency medicine to medical colleges, and to education. Anthony was the former President of the Australasian Trauma Society and former Chair of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine between 2004 and 2009. Professor Rob Baxter AM (pictured on front cover) has more than 20 years’ experience in breast cancer research, with expertise in cell biology, endocrinology and metabolic regulation. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to medical research, endocrinology and tertiary education. Rob has been a Professor in the Sydney Medical School since 1992 and was Director of the Kolling Institute from 1994 to 2011.

awarded as part of the Queen’s official birthday celebrations during the month of June. Of the 933 Australian recipients, NSLHD had six clinicians and researchers associated with the district’s services who received an award. The recipients are: Professor Georgina Long AO is co-medical director of Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and Chair of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research at MIA and RNSH. Georgina was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to medicine, particularly to melanoma clinical and translational research and to professional medical societies. Georgina is also Chair of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research at the University of Sydney. Dr Jennifer Martin OAM is a senior staff specialist in emergency medicine at RNSH, a role she has held since 2004. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to emergency medicine. Jennie has worked as an adult and paediatric emergency physician since 1995.

Prof Georgina Long AO

Dr David Fahey AM

Dr Anthony Joseph AM



Sepsis specialist appointed ao For more than 20 years, Professor Simon Finfer has led transformational studies in critically ill patients to reduce mortality and shed light on one of the world’s most serious silent killers – sepsis. An ICU specialist at Royal North Shore Hospital, Simon is a Professorial Fellow in the Critical Care and Trauma Division at The George Institute where he has been involved in ground-breaking research that is recognised around the world. The critical care physician was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, one of 134 people honoured in science, medicine and engineering. His work has been instrumental in demonstrating that high-quality randomised controlled trials could be done in the critical care population and lead to improved mortality. The founder of research and advocacy body the Australian Sepsis Network leads a team trialling drug treatments for COVID-19 at RNSH. The research focuses on sepsis, a condition in which the body’s immune response to infection starts to damage tissues and organs. In 2015 Professor Finfer established the Australian Sepsis Network (ASN), a national association working across jurisdictions, and with sepsis clinical champions and survivors. In early 2018, the ASN, which is hosted at The George Institute, released the ‘Stopping Sepsis National Action Plan’, which was developed in collaboration with policy, clinical, academic, research and survivor stakeholders and form the basis of national

Prof Simon Finfer

efforts to reduce the national burden of sepsis. Also in 2015, Professor Finfer co-chaired an international meeting of sepsis experts to develop a path to reduce the global burden of sepsis. This meeting initiated a collaboration that led to the first truly global assessment of the burden of sepsis culminating in the publication of an authoritative report in The Lancet in January 2020. In October 2018, Simon led efforts to establish the Asia Pacific Sepsis Alliance leading the Bangkok Declaration – a call to action for a regional alliance to reduce the burden of sepsis in the Asia Pacific. This followed the 2017 WHO resolution that made sepsis a global health priority. He is a member of the executive committee of the Global Sepsis Alliance, which initiated the push for the WHO resolution. • facebook.com/HornsbyHospital/ NSLHD on Twitter • twitter.com/NthSydHealth NSLHD on LinkedIn • linkedin.com/company/northern-sydney- local-health-district/

stay up-to-date with nslhd on social media NSLHD on Facebook

• facebook.com/nthsydhealth/ • facebook.com/RydeHospital/ • facebook.com/MonaValeHospitalNSW/ • facebook.com/RoyalNorthShore/



The historic Denistone House at Ryde Hospital

Ryde hospital’s Denistone House undergoes major restoration The 142-year-old Denistone House at Ryde Hospital is undergoing its first major restoration project.

to the sandstone. It also involves repairing and repainting cast iron veranda posts, lacework and timber window frames, and roof and gutter repairs. Ryde Hospital General Manager Heather Gough said the rich history of Denistone House makes it a special building for the Ryde community. “The maintenance and restoration of Denistone House is vital as it represents a really important piece of history for the local community,” she said. The restoration works at Denistone House are due to be completed by August this year.

Before joining the Ryde Hospital campus in 1934 Denistone House was a privately-owned mansion surrounded by pastures and orchards. For more than 50 years it was used as a maternity ward before transitioning to a space for allied health services. The major restoration project, overseen by NSW Public Works and the district’s Capital Works team, includes replacing deteriorated sandstone blocks, rectifying damaged sandstone blocks and improving ventilation to prevent further damage

RNSH Walkers

Walk yourself happy with RNSH Walkers The Royal North Shore Hospital Wellness at Work Committee is calling staff to put on their runners and get walking.

active and want to change that,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for staff to increase their fitness, to socialise with other staff and to get out and enjoy the fresh air.” The walks will take place every Tuesday at 12.30pm and Thursday at 1.00pm and will be led by staff who have completed the Heart Foundation training module. To join the RNSH walking group, contact NSLHD- Wellness@health.nsw.gov.au. If you have any questions, please contact Debra.Williams@health.nsw.gov.au or Michelle. Edwards1@health.nsw.gov.au.

The committee has established a Health Heart Foundation Walking Group as part of the staff Health and Wellbeing program. Health and Wellbeing Consultant Deb Williams said the walking groups have been designed to fit into people’s busy work days with walks taking no more than 30 minutes. “Heart Foundation Walking groups are perfect for people of all ages and fitness levels and are especially good for people who aren’t currently

6 NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 11| 19 JUNE 2020

Behind the scenes of COVID-19: the Public Health Unit It’s been the biggest health response in a century with the scale of COVID-19

catching many by surprise, but for Northern Sydney’s Public Health Unit it was time to put practice into action. Harking back to January many were still living their lives as normal, enjoying the Sydney summer blissfully ignorant of what was around the corner. Public Health Unit Physician Dr Jo Cochrane was ready to embark on some much deserved leave, concerned that when she returned in the three weeks’ time, the landscape might be very different. It was - the District’s Pandemic Plan had been enacted. “We often have to respond very rapidly to outbreaks of other conditions but generally they are short lived,” Jo said. “This is the first time in recent years we have had to have such a sustained response that has gone outside of our usual capacity because of the number of cases and intensity of follow up required.” Speaking at the District’s COVID-19 call centre, Jo and her team have had the unenviable task of breaking the news to COVID-19 positive patients, but that is just the start of the work. “We receive the COVID notifications here and follow up with positive cases, interview them by phone to determine what their symptoms are, what their risk factors are, where they have been and where they might have got it or been in contact with another case,” she said. “We advise them on isolation and give them information but the second part of that is identifying and contacting their close contacts.

Troy McNeill (front left) and Dr Jo Cochrane (front right) with some of the call centre staff

“This is the most important part of our work. It is the combination of social distancing and restriction with the isolation of cases and quarantining of their close contacts that has been able to stop the spread of COVID.” As the COVID curve swelled, the Public Health Unit surged – the team expanded to meet the needs of the community with staff from across the district and disciplines uniting under the PHU banner. “We’ve had dental staff, we’ve had exercise physiologists, there’s nursing staff from different backgrounds or communicable disease team members and immunisation nurses and we’ve all pulled together and done very well,” Jo said. Clinical Nurse Specialist Troy McNeill is one of the 20 staff who man the phones at any time – a very different front in the fight against the virus than the one people have seen on the news, but equally as important. people who have been retired – supported by our experienced clinical nurse specialists, public health physicians, other “It’s not an instinctive nurse thing to be able to pick up and do an interview over the phone, you lose a lot of your visual cues that you would

normally have,” Troy said. “A lot of resources have gone into training the surge staff to ensure they have the knowledge, skills and attributes to complete case interviews. “There are generally a couple of responses to being given a coronavirus positive result: there’s either silence at the other end of the phone or there’s a lot of swearing, or there’s tears. “We explore those emotions with them, you’ve got to give people the time to process the news about their diagnosis those emotions and what that means for them, but importantly we need all the information out of them as quickly as possible too so we can control the risks going forward.” Troy said while the hours have been long and the workload at times appeared to be impossible, she was committed to playing her role in guiding us all to safety. “One of the things we are trained to do in public health is to deal with the next pandemic,” she said. “This pandemic has given us our once in a life time opportunity to do that. Everyone has given 100 per cent and I’m proud to be part of the team.” WWW.NSLHD.HEALTH.NSW.GOV.AU 7

Protect yourself from viruses

Clean your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitiser. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms. Stay home if you are sick.

Find the facts health.nsw.gov.au/coronavirus

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