NSLHD News 7 August 2023

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


Main story RNSH celebrates National Tree Day Chief Executive Anthony Schembri helped celebrate the day by planting a tree on the campus. Page 3 Short blurb Read more on Page x

RNSH Alumni night a resounding success Page 3

stroke unit helps patients receive life saving treatment Page 9


Message from the board chair Trevor Danos AM

It has been three weeks since our new Chief Executive Anthony Schembri started. I know some of you have already had the opportunity to meet him on his ‘listen and learn’ visits to our hospitals and services. The Board gave Anthony a warm welcome at the July meeting and the Board looks forward to working with him as we continue to grow our district and deliver world-class care. After 10 years serving on the NSLHD Board, Andrew Goodsall is retiring. Andrew has been a passionate and hard-working member of, and strong contributor to, the Board providing insightful advice drawn from his extensive background in health policy. The Board sincerely thanks Andrew and wishes him well in his next endeavours. I had the pleasure of attending the Royal North Shore Hospital Alumni 2023, a wonderful event which brought so many past and present doctors together. A highlight was seeing Professor Thomas Reeve AC CBE awarded the prestigious RNSH Alumni Medal. Thomas was the first and founding professor of surgery at RNSH. Thomas was recognised for his significant contributions. Attendees were reminded of Thomas’ significant contributions to medicine and research in Australia and internationally and his leadership and mentorship of generations of surgeons.. There are extraordinary people in in the district who help make a real difference in our community and show incredible commitment. They include staff, consumers, patients, volunteers and other stakeholders. The NSLHD Honour Roll, established last year, recognises the exceptional

and outstanding service provided by a person who has had a strong involvement with the district over an extended period, generally of five years or more. I invite you to consider nominating someone you feel deserving of this prestigious award. Up to five colleagues each year can receive this award which is presented at the Annual Public Meeting along with a lasting tribute on the NSLHD website. Our inaugural 2022 winner was Deb Willcox, our former NSLHD Chief Executive from November 2017 to September 2022. Nominations for the 2023 NSLHD Honour Roll are open until 30 September. Details on how to submit a nomination for consideration by the NSLHD Board can be found on the website. If you have further queries or would like support with your nomination, you can email: NSLHD-boardSecretariat@health. nsw.gov.au

Trevor Danos AM Board Chair Northern Sydney Local Health District



RNSH Alumni night a resounding success After an illustrious medical career spanning decades, Professor Tom Reeve AC CBE has received Royal North Shore Hospital’s first ever alumni medal.

RNSH for over 30 years, specialising in spinal injuries surgery and established a network of surgeons, which under his leadership, provides orthopaedic and trauma services to Dubbo Base Hospital and essential services to a significant portion of rural NSW. Organiser Dr Chris Dennis declared the event a wonderful occasion and one that would be repeated. “Dr John Brereton and I endeavoured to hold this event on several occasions over the past few years,” Chris said. “We have been frustrated by the pandemic. So, it was wonderful to finally realise our plan. We hope to see this event grow in stature in the years to come and engender in our great institution a sense of camaraderie and collegiality in our work serving the community.”

The almost 100-year-old was delighted to be awarded the medal, which was presented at the RNSH Medical Alumni 2023 event held at the Kolling auditorium recently. While Tom couldn’t be at the event to receive his medal, he told the audience of RNSH former and current doctors, via video link, he was delighted to be honoured. Hosted by the RNSH Medical Staff Council, the event brought close to 100 clinicians together in person, with many more watching online. RNSH orthopaedic surgeon Dr Stephen Ruff gave a warm and entertaining presentation. Stephen was an orthopaedic surgeon at

Thomas Reeve is presented his award from Michael Appleberg

RNSH celebrates National Tree Day With the help of Chief Executive Anthony Schembri, RNSH has celebrated National Tree Day by planting a tree on the campus.

The planted tree is a native called a Tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis Anarcardioides) and will provide a broadleaf canopy of leaves providing shade and comfort for visitors. With the RNSH campus being located in the local Willoughby region, the tree is part of the Willoughby Council Tree Master Plan, which aims to maintain consistency of certain species in the local area.

Established in 1996 by Planet Ark, National Tree Day has grown into Australia’s largest community tree-planting and nature care event. The program is a call to action for all Australians to get their hands dirty and give back to their community.



Security officers celebrated Security officers from Royal North Shore Hospital were presented with commemorative badges to recognise and celebrate their significant contributions as part of NSLHD’s International Security Officers Day celebrations.

the district took some time to celebrate their wonderful achievements.” The badges will be distributed to all security officers across the district as part of the celebrations.

The day, which takes place on 24 July, provides an opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to security officers who play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors. The officers were presented the badges by NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri, NSLHD Director of People and Culture Paula Williscroft and RNSH A/General Manager Amanda Harriss. Anthony thanked the security officers for their contributions. “Our security officers work around the clock 24/7 to keep staff, patients and community members safe,” he said. “I hope all security teams across

The officers were presented the badges by NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri, RNSH A/General Manager Amanda Harriss and NSLHD Director of People and Culture Paula Williscroft

Donated wraps to help RNSH NICU The neonatal intensive care unit at RNSH has recently received a generous donation of wraps from a day care centre. The Rise & Shine Day Care Centre from Summer Hill collected a range of wraps to help provide some reprieve for sick patients and their families. Head of Department and Staff Specialist of Neonatology Dr Eveline Staub said the donations will go a long way in helping vulnerable babies achieve restful sleeps. “The generously donated wraps allows our nurses to make special nests for the babies to keep them as comfortable as possible to help them achieve a very restful sleep,” she said. Dr Staub also said that some patients require the wraps to help them be swaddled and introduced to feeds to bottle feeds. “For some of our tiny patients who have been sick, starting to feed on bottles can be a big task that requires a lot of coordination,” she said.

wraps will play a big part in this process to keep them comfortable. “On behalf of the NICU, I’d like to sincerely thank the Rise & Shine Day Care Centre for organising such a generous donation that will go a long way to help our tiny patients and their families.”

“To help them organise themselves for this important milestone, the babies often get swaddled for the feeds from a bottle and the

The RNSH NICU were all smiles after being presented with the wraps from the Rise & Shine Day Care Centre



Director of Mental Health Drug & Alcohol Andrea Taylor, Michelle Lawrence and Elisabeth Manning

Healing hearts and minds at Macquarie A traditional healing garden is providing comfort for mental health consumers and visitors to Macquarie Hospital while honouring the connection between land and the indigenous custodians.

traditional healing garden serves as a vital resource for the First Nations Recovery Group within the hospital’s community. “By incorporating traditional medicinal plants, the garden becomes a living symbol of healing, both physically and spiritually,” she said. “The First Nations Recovery Group’s consumers can actively engage with the plants, learning about their historical uses and medicinal properties, which have been passed down through generations. “This empowering experience not only enables individuals to reconnect with their cultural heritage but also helps promote a sense of belonging and pride in their Indigenous identity.”

Situated on the lands of the Burramattagal people of the Darug nation, the medicinal plant garden, pays tribute to their wisdom their traditional healing practices. The traditional healing garden at Macquarie Hospital not only serves as a place of cultural significance and healing for the First Nations community but also offers a peaceful and reflective space for the hospital staff and consumers. Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Aboriginal Clinical Lead Michelle Lawrence said the PLASTIC FREE JULY Sustainability efforts have been in full swing at Mona Vale Hospital (MVH) and Brookvale Community Health Centre (BCHC) as part of Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution, with a focus on encouraging the use of single-use coffee cups. Participating in the movement was encouraged by the MVH and the BCHC Sustainability Committee which is chaired by A/General Manager MVH Mathivanan Sakthivel. Mathivanan said the committee are always looking for ways to contribute to NSLHD’s planetary health efforts on the journey to net zero. “We work hard to reinforce simple things that can be done by reminding our teams to be conscious about the use of plastic items where they can,” he said. “Plastic Free July has been a great opportunity to raise some awareness about small changes having a significant impact of a period of time.

“We also try and make these efforts the whole year round. We’ve had our makeshift ‘recycle centre’ set up at BCHC in the population health promotion office for coffee cups, reusable bowls, stationary, batteries and some nice treats to thank staff for their efforts.”

Student family health nurse at Mona Vale BCHC, Michaela using her reusable coffee cup and water bottle



Kolling researchers leading the fight against diabetes With a concerning rise in the number of people developing Type 2 diabetes, researchers at the Kolling Institute are offering an effective way forward to reduce the impact of the serious disease. “These drugs will have the potential to halt the march of diabetes.” For many people a combined approach of exercise, diet and medication will achieve significant results.

Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in the world, and if the current trend continues, it’s anticipated close to three million Australians will have the disease by 2025. It often occurs in those who are over 40, overweight or if there’s a genetic predisposition, but increasingly doctors are seeing young adults and adolescents with the condition. Sadly, many people may have the disease, and not realise it until the condition is well advanced. Kolling researcher and Royal North Shore Hospital endocrinologist Associate Professor Sarah Glastras said Type 2 diabetes is a crippling condition which can increase your chance of kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. “There is no cure but it can be put into remission with lifestyle changes, with evidence suggesting that losing weight can help you manage your diabetes and return to normal blood sugar levels,” she said. “It is an encouraging time with a

“I often tell my patients you can’t change your age or your genes, but we do have control over what we eat and how much exercise we do. Exercise is crucial to improving the body’s metabolism.” “Importantly, there also needs to be greater access to these promising new medications, and a greater focus on the condition. “Unlike cancer and heart disease, diabetes often doesn’t receive the attention and funding it deserves. There is a stigma associated with obesity and diabetes, a belief that people have brought it on themselves, neglecting the fact that it is a genetically driven disease.”

range of new drugs, innovations and clinical trials in the pipeline which will offer tools and strategies to manage diabetes. “In the next 12 months, there will be new combined medications which we expect will help with weight loss and the maintenance of glucose levels.

Associate Professor Sarah Glastras

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RNSH’s 9E dementia ward rocking their fun scrubs

Fun scrub fridays brightening the day for dementia patients Fridays at RNSH’s dementia ward are now a bit brighter. Staff have taken to wearing all sorts of

colours and patterns?” she said. The ward has 30 patients in total but the high dependency unit has eight beds and specialises in caring for aged care patients who have behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, and a high risk of falling over. One large wall is covered with wallpaper depicting a large tree with green leaves, dappled sunlight, and a bus stop and taxi sign. It was also Rina’s idea to put up the image, which some patients have found comfort in, as they can sit in front of it and imagine going to the shops.

colourful scrubs, some featuring cats wearing hats, unicorns with purple manes, and green cheetahs. Rina Santos, a nursing assistant who has worked on the ward for 18 years, suggested staff wear fun scrubs to cheer up their dementia patients. “We really see the difference when they see us in our new scrubs,” said Rina. “We are more approachable.” Rina was inspired to do the fun scrubs after hearing about clinicians in Ireland caring for dementia patients wearing different-coloured aprons. “We wear Christmas scrubs so why can’t we wear a different scrub with different More than 50 nurse practitioners, transitional nurse practitioners and doctors from across the state recently came together for Hornsby Hospital’s inaugural Emergency Nurse Practitioner Education Day. The event covered topics ranging from anatomy and physical examination to fracture types and management, non-bone injuries, antibiotic choices and regional anaesthesia. Hornsby Hospital Director of Nursing and Midwifery Drew Hilditch-Roberts said the day was a great success. “The day was an opportunity to bring staff together and learn from one another,” Drew said. “The event was hosted by emergency department nurse practitioners and guest speakers included hand surgeons, orthopaedic registrars, and infectious

“It’s really good,” said Rina of the wall, adding that she has plans to decorate other parts of the ward. “It’s another way to cheer up the patients.” EMERGENCY NURSE PRACTITIONER EDUCATION DAY AT HORNSBY

diseases consultants, as well as members of the emergency department team. “We have received excellent feedback and staff are already brainstorming ideas for next year’s event.”

Hornsby ED Nurse Practitioner Megan Greig



STEPtember returns for 2023 Registrations for STEPtember are now open for steppers across the district. STEPtember is a month long fundraising event conducted by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) which aims to support a wide range of initiatives involving those living with cerebral palsy. Steppers can take part in STEPtember individually or as part of a team, with the aim of hitting a daily goal of steps to encourage donations. NSLHD Professional Development Partner Julie Howse, who has been stepping in the challenge since 2016, is excited to be taking part for another year. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and finding more moments to exercise for STEPtember 2023,” she said. “It’s a great way to get your exercise in for a great cause.”

Julie stepped on team ‘Leggings and Laces’ last year and offered some advice to staff members who may be considering taking part this year. “Last year our team held a very successful Bunnings BBQ and in other years we’ve done a trivia night and baked cakes to help drive donations,” she said. “For anyone considering taking part, it really is a great excuse to have some friendly competition and get involved for a fantastic cause.” There are a number of rewards to be won across the district for the highest steppers and largest fundraisers. Teams and individuals across NSLHD can join by visiting https://www.steptember.org. au/join/northernsydneylhd and selecting the NSLHD service or department that applies.

Julie (middle) helped run a BBQ at Bunnings last year with fellow steppers Katherine Pile and Maura Desmond




Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital’s stroke unit

stroke unit helps patients receive life saving treatment Hornsby residents experiencing a stroke can now receive life-saving treatment closer to home with the opening of a new stroke unit. Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital opened the stroke unit at the same time as the new

their rehabilitation in the one hospital and in their local area.” The new purpose-built stroke unit has 8 beds and three bariatric rooms Since its implementation, the new stroke pathway has led to improved door-to-needle times by 40 per cent compared to previous years; which is a key determinant of patient outcomes post-stroke. Patients are also receiving much higher rates of thrombolysis medication compared to previous years. “This has been made possible through the enhancement of Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital facilities as well as a streamlining of stroke processes,” Omar said. “These have included upgrades to CT imaging, including advanced perfusion studies and onsite MRI; use of new technologies that provide mobile alerts and access to offsite imaging in order to further reduce delays to treatment and enhancements to staffing to aid management and care of higher acuity patients.”

redevelopment and 12 months ago allowing ambulances to transport local patients with the onset of stroke, reducing the need to travel further to other hospitals. Previously, patients who were suffering stroke would need to go to a nearby tertiary hospital and could receive their post-stroke care at Hornsby. Neurologist and Head of Department Dr Omar Ahmad said by having acute stroke therapies at Hornsby meant that patients could receive thrombolysis- a clot busting procedure- earlier giving them better chances of recovery. “All local stroke patients with onset within a 24-hour period are now directed to Hornsby to be assessed rather than be diverted to the nearest tertiary hospital,” Omar said. “This has led to many benefits including patients receiving all of their care including

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



The Acute Rapid Response Team

Right care at the right time Elderly residents across northern Sydney will soon have access to more tailored, timely healthcare in the comfort of their own homes, thanks to the expansion of geriatric urgent care services across the district. Three geriatric outreach services in Northern Sydney Local Health District are expanding meaning patients can be seen by specialist aged care nurses and doctors, who can attend theperson’s home. The expansion will help ease pressure on northern Sydney’s busy emergency departments by extending the hours of operation to 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Up to 3100 more residents a year can avoid having to go to a hospital emergency department, receiving care in the comfort of their own home instead. Premier Chris Minns and Health Minister Ryan Park toured Royal North Shore Hospital’s emergency department and met with staff before announcing the $124 million geriatric outreach service expansion, which include

services also based in south-eastern and south-western Sydney. James Hardy, Geriatrician and Head of Department at Royal North Shore Hospital, is incredibly proud to be part of the Acute Rapid Response Team which is part of the district’s geriatric outreach services. “We’re able to see patients improve their health and stay well and happy at home,” said James. “Our focus is to treat older patients in the most appropriate place. At times that might be in hospital, but often it’s at home where they feel safe and are the only patient in the room.” The service allows patients to be seen to by specialist aged care nurses and doctors, who can attend the person’s home and provide a comprehensive assessment and treatment. Patients are referred by a GP or residential aged care facility, Healthdirect, and NSW Ambulance. Foundation, the Kolling and the University of Sydney. Professor Mark Molloy, Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research has welcomed the new technology, saying it will allow researchers to profile gene and protein expression in specific cells of complex tissues such as tumours, brain tissue, liver and kidney cells. “This will in turn, provide valuable new information about how cells function in disease and health,” he said. “It’s wonderful to have this equipment which will help us understand how disease develops.

Technology giving our researchers the edge Impressive new infrastructure at the Kolling Institute is set to drive progress with research into cancer and neuroscience.

The equipment includes a digital spatial profiling system, which is regarded as one of the most exciting technological advances globally in the investigation of tissues. The $525,000 instrument has been made possible following a LIEF grant through the Australian Research Council to Professor Mark Molloy. A new laser capture microscope has also been installed which will allow researchers to capture specific tissue regions for sequencing and analysis. It was funded by the Ian Potter



The RNSH nuclear medicine team with the new scanner

state-of-the-art PET Scanner commences use at rnsh A state-of-the-art high resolution, ultra-high sensitivity “total body PET” scanner is now in use at Royal North Shore Hospital benefitting patients and clinical research.

halves the time it takes for a scan, and reduces the dose of radiation needed due to its precision. Head of Nuclear Medicine Prof Paul Roach said the previous PET/CT scanner used to take seven to eight images of the body which would take as long as 20 minutes. “The new scanner is able to capture most of the body in just one image” Paul said. “At least half the time the scanner will be used for our (hospital) patients and the other time it will be used by the university for clinical research.” The benefit to patients has been described as enormous, particularly cancer patients by providing more rapid scans which have higher image quality and better diagnostic performance than previous versions.

In an Australian-first, the PET/CT scanner will be used equally for clinical research and to perform diagnostic scans for patients with cancer as well as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and unknown infections. Geoffrey Bassell, of Goulburn, was the first patient to undergo a scan using the new scanner equipment on its first official day of operation. The scanner was purchased through a collaboration with the University of Sydney, the Federal Government’s National Imaging Facility and Northern Sydney Local Health District. Geoffrey is one of many patients who will benefit from the Siemens’ Quadra, which “It will also help us identify new biomarkers indicating which patients are likely to respond to some treatments. “This is important as we continue to see a rise in the number people diagnosed with some cancers. “For example, we are seeing an increase in those under 50 with early onset colorectal cancer, and by 2030, we expect one in 10 cases will be under 50 years old. “This is a concerning trend, with no clear explanation for the rise in these cases. “A decade ago there was little attention given to this condition, but we now have evidence of increased diagnosis in young people, who sadly, often present with

aggressive, advanced disease where treatment options are more limited.”

Dr Jun Li and Professor Mark Molloy





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