NSLHD News October 8

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


New partnership sets the pace Mental health clinicians are partnering

with police, offering on scene or telephone assessment to assist officers manage people in a mental health crisis as part of a new program. Read more on Page 5

The team behind the PPE Page 3

Specialist Parkinson’s Disease Nurse for Hornsby Page 4


MEssage FROM the chairman Trevor Danos AM

With less than 100 days until the end of 2020 it feels as though a breath of fresh air isn’t too far away. It has been a trying year for us all but one that has shown the true colours of our amazing, dynamic organisation. Our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy is ready to be unveiled. This piece of work contains the voice of our staff and offers a wonderful opportunity for us to show our community, and employees, that we are prioritising diversity and inclusion in our organisation. The benefits of diversity and inclusion are multiple for our organisation. Diversity brings new perspectives and with new perspectives come the opportunity for better problem solving and increased productivity. Diverse groups contribute unique perspectives, which can lead to disruption of the status quo and breakthroughs in thought and the opportunity for our district to be an even more innovative organisation. Diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand. When we create a work environment where employees see a representation of a variety of cultures, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, they are more likely to bring their whole selves to work. This in turn leads to happier, more productive employees. We made several partnerships while developing the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy for guidance and support, including the Male Champions of Change (MCC). I am engaged as NSLHD’s MCC and am pleased to advise of a new report “Disrupting the system – preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace”, which offers a guide for future approaches, actions

and resources to disrupt the ineffective systems for managing the issue of sexual harassment within organisations. This forms part of the mission to achieve gender equality, advance more and diverse women into leadership and build safe, respectful and inclusive environments for all. There are certainly challenges ahead and important conversations to be had, but I am convinced that the NSLHD Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging action plan will help lead us in the right direction. I invite you all to get involved. There are a number of ways such as joining one of our Employee Networks, participating in our days of celebration, or attending inclusion training. In some lovely news our Board member, Dr Michelle Mulligan, has been appointed to the boards of the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) and the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI). This is a very prestigious appointment and brings great credit to Michelle, and in reflected glory, to the Anaesthetics and Surgical departments, RNSH and the District. No doubt an appointment made in recognition of (among other things) Michelle’s leadership during COVID-19 and the high standing in which Michelle, her wide-ranging contributions to date, and her judgment are held by her peers, the NSW Minister for Health and the NSW Health Secretary. I am pleased Michelle will remain on the NSLHD Board. Bravo Michelle, we are all delighted for you and very proud to have you as a colleague.

Trevor Danos AM Board Chair Northern Sydney Local Health District


Mikayla Kolnar, Amanda Harriss, Renae McCarthy andMariya Lypska in the central stores at Royal North Shore Hospital Behind the scenes: how PPE went from a stress to a strength

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE), along with toilet paper, became the must- have item for almost every Australian. On average, NSLHD issues 20,500 masks per week, and since April has used 375,000 gowns and 11,000 litres of hand sanitiser Demand was at the time outstripping supply, which was a problem. Enter Performance Support Team Lead Amanda Harriss and her team of PPE wranglers from across the district. “There were a number of challenges to overcome but our objective was clear – to ensure all of our staff had access to appropriate PPE all of the time,” Amanda said. “When we started looking into it from an ‘all of district’ perspective it was apparent we had issues and risks that need addressing immediately. “The incoming supply chain was so fragile we were only able to plan a day or two at a time.” One of the first actions undertaken by Amanda and her team was finding what we had and moving it into central stores where it could then be distributed to clinical teams based on their immediate needs.

“To get the central stores running as quickly as possible we needed to establish some simple and practical systems,” she said. “A stock control process was developed, recording all of the stock by item that we received as well as who, when and where the stock was sent. “A ‘come and collect’ model was created which meant staff needed to fill in a form and come to a central store for collection. One of the downsides was the lack of convenience of stock needing to be collected, however one of the upsides was that people could come to the stores and see that we had stock – it helped with the anxiety that was being felt by many.” However, as they have throughout the pandemic, the community rallied – this time to help us ensure we had enough PPE on hand to beat the virus. “The outpouring from the community was amazing – we had people contacting us daily wanting to donate PPE,” Amanda said. “One of the early PPE shortages we experienced was hand sanitiser. We were unable to source sufficient quantities from our suppliers in the beginning, and every boutique gin distillery

quickly switched to making hand sanitiser. I think most of them contacted us too.” The central stores model remains in operation, with a number of overflows stocked heartily to avoid any future shortages and Amanda said the team deserved an enormous amount of credit. “The work that has been done and continues in managing PPE for NSLHD wouldn’t have been possible without the ‘team’ behind the scenes,” she said. “Our central stores teams are staff from all corners of our workforce and across all of our sites and facilities – we have dock managers, infection prevention and control specialists, directors of nursing, corporate managers, admin officers and nurses, operational managers and project officers, and of course our clinical products team. “None of us would have been brought together as a group under normal circumstances but we have and I believe that we are all richer in experience for it. “The trust that all of the NSLHD workforce placed in us as a team can’t be understated especially when things were quite tense. Having the support and understanding from staff made it all a little bit easier.”



District staff meet Parkinson’s NSW staff for the signing of the memorandum of understanding at Hornsby Hospital

PARKINSON’S nurse – a first for NSLHD In a first for the district, a Parkinson’s disease nurse will be located at Hornsby Ku-ring- gai Hospital under a new partnership with Parkinson’s NSW. The significant partnership means a

specialist nurse who will work with medical practitioners across multiple disciplines, have access to medical records and resources, and enjoy the benefits of peer support and ongoing professional development. “There is an undersupply of nurses in Australia with the skills and specialised training required to support people like myself who are living with Parkinson’s,” David said. “There are also long waiting lists for neurologists who specialise in movement disorders – which makes the need for more of these nurses even more critical. “Therefore Parkinson’s NSW regards the appointment of every Parkinson’s Specialist Nurse as a breakthrough for our community – and we delighted that Hornsby Hospital and the Northern Sydney Local Health District are enabling that breakthrough by signing a memorandum of understanding with us.”

dedicated nurse will work part-time with patients in the rehabilitation and aged care wards who live with Parkinson’s. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed at Hornsby Hospital recently with Chief Executive Deb Willcox attending with David Veness, President of Parkinson’s NSW, and Chief Executive Jo-Anne Reeves. “I am delighted that our district will now have a specialist nurse who can support people living with Parkinson’s disease,” Deb said. “By having the nurse located at Hornsby, our patients and community will benefit directly from having specialised skills co-located with other medical professionals.” Under the MOU, Parkinson’s NSW and the district share the funding for a Parkinson’s STEPTEMBER VICTORY Northern Sydney Local Health District has topped the local health district leader board in this year’s Steptember challenge clocking in more than 187 million steps and raising more than $67,400 for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. In its fifth year undertaking the event, the

district saw 776 keen steppers take on the challenge to hit 10,000 steps per day for 28 days in September. The funds raised support a wide range of initiatives to help people living with cerebral palsy to live their best lives. Congratulations to everyone who took part!



Mental health clinicians working with police as first responders Mental health clinicians are now based at Ku- ring-gai and Dee Why police stations offering on scene or telephone assessment to assist officers manage people in a mental health crisis as part of a new program.

The clinicians officially joined the ranks at the local area police commands last month and will be embedded in the stations offering support to officers in how to respond to mental health emergencies, as well as attend situations where mental health concerns have been raised. The Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) program is part of the NSW Government’s $73 million COVID-19 mental health package and sees 36 specialist mental health clinicians employed across 10 police area commands and districts in Sydney following the strong results of a pilot program. NSW Police last year attended more than 55,000 mental health incidents. Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Director Andrea Taylor said the presence of a PACER clinician in a police station will increase the knowledge and understanding of mental health issues amongst police. “With police and clinicians working together in a mental health emergency, we are more likely to see better health outcomes for people in the community experiencing a mental health crisis,” Andrea said. “The specialist mental health clinicians will also be able to support and educate police officers in responding to people who may be suffering from a mental health issue. “The faster we can assess and connect

Crew at the Hornsby PACER launch

Crew at the Dee Why PACER launch

people at the time of crisis with the most appropriate support, the better the health outcome will be for them ensuring that they receive the right care and treatment in the right place. It will also release police so they can spend more time serving our community in other areas.” This month is Mental Health Month. There are plenty of activities being held across the district to raise awareness of mental health. To view the events, click here.

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• facebook.com/RoyalNorthShore/ • facebook.com/HornsbyHospital/ NSLHD on Twitter • twitter.com/NthSydHealth NSLHD on LinkedIn • linkedin.com/company/northern- sydney-local-health-district/

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



Dr John Mach and Professor Sarah Hilmer

Researchers guide better use of medicines With the majority of older Australians taking five or more medications, a team from the Kolling Institute has developed a valuable tool

medications people take, the more likely they are to have adverse drug reactions,” he said. “However, we do not really understand how drugs interact when several drugs are used together. “Following our research, we’ve been able to develop an analytical method to better understand the complex drug interactions when using multiple medications. “We believe this tool will provide an evidence- based resource to guide clinicians when prescribing medications for older patients in hospitals, aged care facilities and across the broader community. “We hope this method will be used not just in Australia, but internationally as well to help understand drug interactions and improve patient outcomes.”

to better understand adverse outcomes. The analytical resource has been developed by Professor Sarah Hilmer and Dr John Mach, after several years of research investigating the effects of using multiple medications. Previous studies have generally looked at the interaction between drug pairs, but the research conducted by the Geoff and Elaine Penney ageing research unit has had a much broader scope, examining the impact of taking multiple medications. Dr Mach anticipates strong interest in the research findings with two thirds of older Australians regularly using five or more medicines. “We know that taking multiple medications is common in old age, and that the more


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


Junior doctors resolute in face of once in a lifetime pandemic For many junior doctors, the start of this year was the realisation of a dream and the product of years of scrupulous study; but, it quickly became much more than that – it became the ultimate baptism of fire. COVID-19’s arrival turned the lives of interns and residents upside down. One of those affected was Dr Milonee Shah – a second year junior medical officer wanting to pursue a career in critical care. Milonee’s first placement for the year was ED, followed by a stint in ICU. “For me, it was scary, but at the same time it was perfect,” she said. “As someone who wants to pursue a career in critical care medicine and has a passion for adrenaline filled situations like retrievals, working in ED and ICU for the nine months of this year has been extremely valuable. “I put it this way, if I can handle the stress and dynamic nature of a pandemic, then I’m definitely built for this career.” While the experience would prove to be invaluable, it would also take its toll on Milonee, and many of her colleagues. “None of us have ever experienced a pandemic, let alone having to face the reality of continuing to work through one whilst also maintaining a brave face as frontliners for the community,” she said. “Alongside getting used to the lifestyle of a junior doctor, which often has its own associated stress and fatigue, having the added cognitive element of constantly thinking about COVID-19, whether my patient might need to be screened, how to keep myself, my colleagues and my dear ones safe - all of that has had a subconscious impact and has made it a more challenging journey as a junior doctor. “It was a stressful time from a mental health point of view, dealing with our own personal lives and safety whilst also managing the high levels of anxiety and concern in the community.” Milonee said the camaraderie among staff

was one of the most essential tools in the fight against the virus, as well as support from the junior medical staff unit and the Residential Medical Officers’ Association. “The doctors, nurses, administrative and support staff - everyone was crucial to supporting everyone else,” she said. “It was important for all the staff to be adaptable, flexible and maintain a sense of disconnect from the stress of the whole situation in order to keep servicing our community. “We sought comfort in each other and also benefited from some wonderful gestures of kindness from the community.” While Milonee can’t wait to get back to in- person dance classes and travelling with her partner, she said the pandemic has taught her some valuable lessons about teamwork and wellbeing so early in her career – but also that it’s important to be happy doing what you do. “As clichéd and philosophical as it sounds, you never know what’s coming around the corner, so it’s important to be happy where you are, whatever you’re doing,” she said. “All of the healthcare staff working through the pandemic and risking their own lives would never have been able to do it if they didn’t love their job.”



Allied Health Professionals Day

Celebrating. Appreciating. Inspiring. Connecting.

Wednesday 14th October 2020 #alliedhealthprofessionalsday #allied4areason #strongertogether #proudtobeAH Celebrate the skills, achievements, and work of Allied Health Professionals this October. Contact your nearest Allied Health team for more information.

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