NSLHD News April 22 2022

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


Main story Short blurb new research: back pain treatment shoulD not neglect the mind A team from the Kolling Institute has found the best treatment for chronic low back pain doesn’t just focus on the physical, but combines physiotherapy treatments with those focusing on the mind. Page 7 Read more on Page x

Spotlight on new graduate ICU nurses Page 5

aboriginal and torres strait islander staff network day Page 3


I hope you were able to have some time over the long weekend to catch up with family and friends and enjoy a well-earned break. To those of you who were working a big thank you for continuing to provide the very best care to our patients and community. Their needs continue seven days a week. I am sure COVID-19 was still very much on your mind over the holiday time and many of you will somehow still be impacted directly or indirectly as you were gathering with family and friends. The Chief Health Officer and NSW Health experts do believe the cases of COVID-19 have begun to plateau with the latest omicron wave passing its peak. With this, thankfully, we are also seeing a reduction in the number of staff furloughing. I would like to thank each of you for your resilience and your inherent efforts to give our patients the best care possible. While the recent changes to isolation periods will be seen as a welcomed return to normal by many, as healthcare workers we remain on amber alert status and the arrangements we currently have in place remain unchanged. I will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available. While the number of cases of COVID-19 does appear to be plateauing there is still a lot of the virus in the community so if you have not already had your booster dose of the vaccine please book one as soon as possible. Our third dose rates are not as high as we need. While many of you may have received your booster at your GP or pharmacist, I really appeal to those of you who haven’t been fully vaccinated with your booster to do so. We want to keep you safe and well. As we head into the busy winter season we are also starting to see an increase of influenza in the community. Our staff flu vaccination campaign continues to gather pace and I am pleased to hear many of you

have already been vaccinated to protect each other, our patients and the community. Staff working in high risk areas such as ICU and Neonatal ICU are required to receive their flu vaccine by June – so please do not delay. Visit the Flu Portal using the Quicklinks portal on the right hand side of the intranet homepage to see how, where and when you can get your flu shot. I do not underestimate the difficulty and stress the necessary furloughing and staff vacancies are having on everyone. While the plateauing gives some light at the end of tunnel, please know the Ministry of Health and the district are working on recruitment strategies and other ways to support you. On a brighter note I am delighted to see the Innovation Program’s The Pitch event back on the calendar after a prolonged absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday 26 April from 4pm, you are encouraged to join us in the Kolling Auditorium at RNSH, or tune in online, to watch four fantastic pitches from staff across the district. The winner could receive up to $50,000 to bring their idea to improve patient care into reality. If you are unable to attend keep your eyes out for a link to the live stream that will be emailed to all staff on the day. Finally and importantly, this coming Anzac Day provides us all with an opportunity to commemorate and remember those who have given their lives in service and acknowledge the contribution of those who have served in our armed forces. Health care professionals are a very special part of the ANZAC story. Our district has a strong history of service, both past and present, so whatever you find yourself doing this Monday take a moment to remember them; lest we forget.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Staff from across the district attended the staff network day

Annual NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network Day The third Northern Sydney Local Health

the event to offer advice and talk about their journeys and experiences in government and non-government agencies,” she said. The networking day included a visit from NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox. “The NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network Day is all about acknowledging our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff across NSLHD and their commitment and contribution to our patients, consumers and community,” Deb said. “This is a day for learning, connection and culture with a focus on professional and career development.” The day started with a welcome smoking ceremony performed by Koomurri to cleanse and re-energise the Muru Dali Gili Gili network.

District Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network Day was recently held at the Northern Sydney Education and Conference Centre (NSECC) at Macquarie Hospital. The annual event was established by the NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service in 2019 and is formally named the Muru Dali Gili Gili Network. Muru Dali Gili Gili is Dharug language which translates to ‘path to shine’. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Manager Kuibuz Gillian Adidi said the day focused on career and professional development, cultural understanding, pathways, networking and included some cultural activities like basket weaving. “Staff from across the district, as well as people outside of the organisation, attended

Staff at a weaving workshop by Tegan Murdock from Ngumpie Weaving

Welcome smoking ceremony by Russell Dawson from Koormurri



The RNSH neurosurgery team wearing the donated scrub caps

SCRUB HAT DONATIONS IN THE SPOTLIGHT Hornsby Spotlight has donated scrub caps to Royal North Shore Hospital’s

from the retailer calling for subscribers to make scrubs. “I saw they [Spotlight] were calling out for people to sew scrub pants, tops and caps for healthcare workers,” she said. “What a perfect way to be helpful and also to use up lots of fabric in my stash.” Speaking on why she decided to get on board, Experience Award • Patient Safety First Award • Delivering Value-Based Integrated Care Award • Supporting our People and Culture Award • Keeping People Healthy Award • Health Research and Innovation Award • Excellence in the Provision of Mental Health Services Award • Planetary Health Award

Lorraine said the creation of the scrub caps was her way of contributing to those working on the front line. “I know a few nurses and know how difficult the last couple of years have been for them,” she said. “This is just a small thank you to them for all the important work they do in such trying conditions.”

neurosurgery unit as part of Spotlight’s ‘Health Care Heroes’ initiative. The scrub caps were made by Lorraine Muntjan, a Spotlight email subscriber and community volunteer. Lorraine said the idea came to her when she saw an email

quality and improvement awards 2022 The Northern Sydney Local Health District Quality

and Improvement Awards celebrate the excellence of our nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, support staff and researchers. The awards put a spotlight on the hard work and delivery of programs and services which have made a real difference to the patients and families we care for. The 2022 award categories include: • Transforming the Patient

Entry forms and further information can be found on the Intranet here: https://bit. ly/3EwsKsY Entries need to be submitted by 29 April 2022.



Meet two of our new graduate ICU nurses A career in health is one of the most sought after for young Australians, according to a recent survey.

even more,” she said. “It makes me proud to say that I contributed to improving the health of individuals.” Both Megan and Beth agree it is incredibly rewarding caring for people. “It is so rewarding to admitted are very sick and very dependent on others – get better and become more autonomous,” Beth said. “As for the patients who don’t get better, it is really sad and tragic but in that regard, it’s incredibly rewarding to make palliative patients and their families feel comfortable and safe during end of life care.” The COVID-19 see patients – who when they’re first

A study by careers advice website Skillsroad found more than 20 per cent of 5000 respondents – aged 20 years or younger – nominated health as the industry they wanted to work in. This is encouraging news for nurses Megan Feneley and Beth Riordan who both started their nursing careers at Royal North Shore Hospital’s intensive care unit this year. It was their passion for helping people that drew them to the nursing profession. “To be the person who is there for patients every step of the way and assisting them in getting better is something so special that no other profession can embody,” Megan said. “Nursing is so rewarding and nothing brings me more joy than seeing my patients improve and eventually go home thanks to the care myself and others have provided.” Beth’s mum, as well as her love of science, also inspired her to go into nursing. “My mum used to be a theatre nurse at Royal North Shore Hospital and I always found her stories really interesting,” Beth said. Megan said the staff have been so supportive of her learning and ensuring she gets the best experience out of her first year as a new graduate. She said to see her patients smile and thank her for the care she provides always touches her heart. “It makes me love my job

RNSH nurses Megan Feneley and Beth Riordan

hope is not lost, we can bounce back from this.” To young people considering a career in nursing, Megan and Beth have one message: go for it. “It is a one of a kind profession,” Megan said. “You are there for people in their good and bad times and you get to be one of the people who nourishes the patient back to good health.” Beth said she has always looked up to ICU nurses for their level of knowledge and skill set. “To be able to call myself one doesn’t feel real,” she said. “It’s a very diverse career – there is a lot of opportunity for professional development, to up-skill or change clinical areas. You’ll always be learning every day.” “It’s a privilege to have the role.”

pandemic has taken a huge toll on healthcare workers across the world. Only having started in their roles this year, Megan and Beth said they have not had to endure the worst of the pandemic, but they speak very highly of their colleagues who have worked so hard over the last few years. “It’s hard to say that the pandemic has strengthened them [colleagues] as nurses because they were already incredibly resilient and emotionally strong,” Beth said. Megan said she was told by someone that nurses gave a part of themselves in the pandemic that they may never get back. “That really touched me,” she said. “It has inspired me to try and bring more joy into the profession and show people



The RNSH speech pathology unit celebrate World Voice Day

World Voice Day April 16 marked the annual World Voice Day celebration. World Voice Day aims to raise awareness for voice disorders such as dysphonia. Dysphonia can affect a range of individuals and can be as a result of: • Injury to the larynx (voice box) or laryngeal nerves following intubation or surgery • Tissue changes from reflux or vocal misuse • Neurological changes such as in stroke or

it will accommodate patients with support so they can sit up and eat properly and participate in physiotherapist. “It is a great addition to the ward and will benefit our most immobile patients that would normally be nursed in bed,” she said. “A huge thank you to the Pink Ladies – this purchase was made possible due to their fantastic fundraising efforts.” degenerative diseases, following a laryngectomy • Occupational voice use such as for teachers, barristers or auctioneers. Royal North Shore Hospital Speech Pathologist Meagan Brown said World Voice Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of dysphonia as well as educate those who may be suffering without knowing how to receive support for it. “Dysphonia impacts approximately seven to nine per cent of children and five

to six per cent of adults in their lifetime,” she said. “Despite the prevalence of dysphonia, not everyone knows about what it is and how they can get support and treatment for it. “It is important for us to use our voices to help those who are unable to.” Royal North Shore Hospital runs a district wide voice and swallow clinic that occurs three times a month with both speech pathologists and an ear, nose and throat doctor.

Ryde Pink Ladies donation for stroke and immobile patients Ryde Hospital’s Ward 8 has received a motorised tilt

chair to support stroke and immobile patients, thanks to a generous donation by the Pink Ladies. The chair will help patients with poor sitting balance – and who cannot manage a normal high back chair – to get out bed and change positions throughout the day. Ryde Hospital General Manager Heather Gough said

Pink Ladies’ volunteers with the new chair



(Left to right): Professor Manuela Ferreira, Lingxiao Chen and Emma Ho

Back pain treatments shouldn’t neglect the mind New research by a team

clinicians in making treatment decisions. Lead author Emma Ho said we know that adults with chronic low back pain not only experience physical disability, but often also suffer psychological distress including anxiety, depression or fear of pain from movement. “Clinical guidelines recommend a combination of exercise and psychosocial therapies for managing chronic low back pain, however very little is actually known about the different types of psychological therapies available and their effectiveness,” she said. “This often leaves doctors and patients unclear about the best choice of treatment.

“This uncertainty motivated us to conduct the study and we are pleased to say we now have a clearer picture of the most effective psychological interventions for people with chronic low back pain. “Our in-depth analysis looked at a broad range of interventions such as counselling and cognitive programs, and we found behavioural therapy and pain education alongside traditional physiotherapy offered the best results and reduction in pain,” she said. Researchers from Australia and Canada were involved in the collaborative research project, with the results to inform healthcare guidelines

from the Kolling Institute has found the best treatment for chronic low back pain doesn’t just focus on the physical, but combines physiotherapy treatments with those focusing on the mind. The study, involving Emma Ho, Professor Manuela Ferreira and Lingxiao Chen, analysed evidence from almost 100 trials worldwide involving over 13,000 patients. It found a combination of physiotherapy alongside psychological interventions, like behavioural therapy and pain education, produced the best outcomes for physical function and pain intensity. The researchers say these results could help improve the clarity of guidelines to better support patients and

not just in Australia but internationally as well.


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



INVITATION TO JOIN: NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027 Virtual All-Staff Consultation Sessions NSLHD has commenced a new process to develop our next NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027. The Strategic Plan will guide our District over the next five years and articulate how we will achieve our goals, leverage opportunities and add to our existing strengths. NSLHD will be hosting 12 virtual consultation sessions (via Zoom) for all-staff and key stakeholders in May 2022. The consultation sessions will focus on six strategic themes that are aligned to the recently released NSW Health Future Health: Strategic Framework 2022-2032. All NSLHD staff are encouraged to attend the sessions. To register to join one of the 12 sessions outlined below, please visit the NSLHD Intranet page here: https://bit.ly/3eahqmb For more information, please contact NSLHD-StrategicPlan@health.nsw.gov.au Session Date/Time Strategic Outcome 6: The health system is managed sustainably (Session 1) Monday 2nd May 2pm - 3:30pm Strategic Outcome 1: Patients and carers have positive experiences and outcomes that matter (Session 1) Wednesday 4th May 9am- 10:30am Strategic Outcome 4: Our staff are engaged and well supported (Session 1) Thursday 5th May 9:30am- 11am Strategic Outcome 5: Research and innovation, and digital advances inform service delivery (Session 1) Thursday 5th May 3pm - 4:30pm Strategic Outcome 3: People are healthy and well (Session 1)

Friday 6th May 9:30am - 11am

Tuesday 10th May 12:30pm – 2:00pm Wednesday 11th May 1pm - 2:30pm Wednesday 11th May 3:00pm - 4:30pm Thursday 12th May 11am - 12:30pm Thursday 12th May 3:30pm- 5:00pm Friday 13th May 10am - 11:30am Monday 16th May 1pm - 2:30pm

Strategic Outcome 2: Safe care is delivered across all settings (Session 1)

Strategic Outcome 3: People are healthy and well (Session 2)

Strategic Outcome 4: Our staff are engaged and well supported (Session 2)

Strategic Outcome 6: The health system is managed sustainably (Session 2) Strategic Outcome 1: Patients and carers have positive experiences and outcomes that matter (Session 2) Strategic Outcome 5: Research and innovation, and digital advances inform service delivery (Session 2) Strategic Outcome 2: Safe care is delivered across all settings (Session 2)

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