NSLHD News August 26 2022

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


Main story strategic plan 2022-2027 launched The NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027 has been launched, providing a framework for how the district delivers care over the next five years. Page 3 Short blurb Read more on Page x

wearing it purple for young lgbtqi+ people Page 4



As many of you will now be aware from the recent announcement by the NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce and NSLHD Board Chair Trevor Danos AM FTSE, I have been appointed as Deputy Secretary Health System Strategy and Planning. While I am humbled by this appointment and feel so very privileged to work for the system in this role, it comes with a great deal of sadness. It has been a personal and professional honour to work in this local health district with all of you and for the community. I was welcomed with open arms, you trusted me, talked openly to me and collectively you have taught me an enormous amount. There have been so many wonderful moments; little chats in corridors, important celebrations, complex discussions and decisions, but more often than not with good humour and always with great camaraderie. These roles are tough, but there was never a moment where I felt we couldn’t do what needed to be done, never more so than during the pandemic. I know it’s not over and you are still enduring enormous strain, for which I am sorry. However, if I had my time over, I would do it all again with each of you. You did an outstanding job. I leave knowing the district in capable hands with strong leadership. Our NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027 has just been launched and it is the culmination of more than 800 of you providing input to

help shape the district’s future.

Setting the strategic priorities is a huge undertaking and involved hours of work and planning by many of you. I would like to congratulate all of you for sharing your ideas and playing an integral role in setting the course of direction for the next five years of our organisation. As part of the new strategic plan, there is also a new vision – Exceptional Care, Leaders in Healthcare, Partners in Wellbeing. I look forward to seeing the NSLHD go from strength to strength.

Thank you for the wonderful times.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Message from the board chair Trevor Danos AM FTSE

Colleagues, I am writing to you with some bitter-sweet news.

I cannot think of a more impressive Chief Executive - someone I am proud to call a colleague and a friend – who is so authentic, trusted, empathetic, inspiring, generous of spirit, compassionate, courageous, hardworking, caring, committed and effective at what she does, as well as being a superb and a one-of-a-kind communicator. I will have more to say in coming days about how we will give Deb the send-off she so richly deserves. And we do all know how much Deb likes a good party! In the meantime, it should be business as usual for the district. Lee Gregory has agreed to serve as the interim Chief Executive from when Deb officially leaves, on 20 September 2022. Many of you will know Lee well – he has been with Northern Sydney for almost 20 years and has held Executive positions across the district including the Director Finance and Corporate Services, General Manager Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital, and most recently the Executive Director Operations. Lee’s extensive experience across strategic, operational and financial aspects together with his leadership skills will minimise disruption and ensure stability and support the continuation of business as usual through this period of transition. In conjunction with the Secretary, the Board will shortly commence a recruitment process to appoint Deb’s successor.

Following a competitive recruitment process, Deb Willcox will be stepping down as NSLHD Chief Executive to take up the position of Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Planning at the NSW Ministry of Health. This is a fantastic and incredibly well- deserved appointment for Deb and on behalf of NSLHD, I have given her our warmest congratulations. This announcement will come as a surprise and as a shock to many of you. I suspect some of you might even shed a tear, even those of you who are unaccustomed to doing so. Many of us might feel a little less certain about the future. Deb’s departure, however, does in no way undermine her faith or the Board’s faith in the district, its people and its bright future, nor our collective passion for and commitment to the good works started and yet to be completed. And if you think about Deb for a moment, what wonderful news, truly a feather in her cap. An appointment that recognises all Deb’s special talents and her capacity to transform an organisation and to bring about change for the greater good. We should pause to reflect on all that Deb has achieved in a little under five years at the district and how Deb has touched all our lives in a positive way and has led us through COVID and how Deb always inspires us to do our best and to achieve the extraordinary. Deb leaves behind multiple exceptional and enduring legacies together with a strong leadership team that will see the district into the future.

Please contact your manager or me if you have any questions.

Trevor Danos AM FTSE Board Chair Northern Sydney Local Health District



Dr Dan Moi and Dr Dushyant Iyer with some of the aids

RNSH anaesthetists develop game changing cognitive aids A group of four doctors

The resources they developed have provided a professional-grade series of cognitive aids to deal with critical patient care, while building them with an RNSH- specific focus too. ASCAR’s aids even played an important role in several of RNSH’s initial COVID-19 responses, with the team working tirelessly to develop, test, and integrate these resources during a period full of rapid changes and updates to protocols. So far, the group has developed over 85 cognitive

aids across nine different specialty areas, alongside a range of supporting videos and a digital mobile app. Dr Matthew Doane, who is the senior staff specialist in the department of anaesthesia, pain, and perioperative medicine at RNSH, said the cognitive aids are invaluable during critical moments. “Seconds matter and being able to ensure none of the key steps in treating a patient are missed is essential to giving them the best chance of a good outcome,” he said.

in the Department of Anaesthesia at Royal North Shore Hospital have developed a range of cognitive aids to improve patient safety during critical situations. Anaesthesia Cognitive Aids and Research (ASCAR) was formed in 2019 by RNSH doctors Dan Zeloof and Jessie Maulder, and later joined by Dan Moi and Dushyant Iyer, with a goal of improving and refining high-quality cognitive aids to assist anaesthetists during critical situations.

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Setting the course for the district The NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027 has been

Exceptional Care, Leaders in Research, Partners in Wellbeing. “Our vision, together with our Strategic Plan 2022-2027, will guide the future of care in NSLHD,” Deb said. “We look forward to working alongside each of you as we continue to care for our patients, our community and each other.” The strategic plan

launched, providing a framework for how the district delivers care over the next five years. Over 800 staff, patients, carers, members of the local community, clinical leaders, and key partners helped shape the development of the strategic plan, which defines the key priorities and future goals of the district. Chief Executive Deb Willcox thanked the invaluable insight from staff and the community which helps to ensure NSLHD is well placed to deliver high quality care. “Their insights, experiences, individual perspectives and feedback have been incredibly important. We thank them for their contribution in helping to ensure we are well placed to continue to deliver high quality, person-centred care now and in the years ahead,” she said. As part of the new strategic plan, the district has also launched a new vision:

aligns closely with the NSW Health Future

Health: Strategic Framework 2022- 2032. The key priority for both the Future

NSLHD Board Chair Trevor Danos AM FTSE and CE Deb Willcox with the new NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027

Health Strategic Framework and NSLHD Strategic Plan is to deliver personalised healthcare and outcomes that matter most to our patients, carers, consumers

and community. To read NSLHD Strategic Plan 2022-2027 visit the NSLHD website here: https:// bit.ly/3KSa60h

People Matter Employee Survey - You Said, We Did The People Matter Employee Survey (PMES) is open and all staff have the opportunity to have their say until Friday, 16 September. The annual survey of all it is important healthcare workers share their feedback through the survey. NSLHD acting Director of Information Communications

team. Hear from Ann in this short video: https://bit. ly/3QYybXm

For more information about the survey or to review the 2021 results please visit the Staff Engagement page on the intranet.

and Technology (ICT) Ann Mirapuri has been listening to the voices of staff and has created actions that have made a difference for the

public sector staff in NSW is a great opportunity to provide feedback on what is working well in the workplace and what can be improved. Following an incredibly challenging time in health responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,



Wear it Purple celebrations at RNSH emergency department

WEARING IT PURPLE FOR YOUNG LGBTQI+ PEOPLE Staff across Northern Sydney Local Health

time this year and were the only local health district to do so. The AWEI is the definitive national benchmark on LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion and measures the overall impact of inclusion initiatives on organisational culture as well as identifying and non-identifying employees. Director of Organisational Development and Capability Christine Tait-Lees said the district performed particularly well in areas such a creating awareness of LGBTQI+ issues, building strategy for LGBTQI+ inclusion and the employee network. “We still have work to do as an organisation to meet the Bronze standard and aim to continue to take NSLHD on the journey,” Chris said. “We all have a part to play and ally ship is one of the best things we can build.” The LGBTQI+ employee resource network brings together staff who are LGBTQI+ and LGBTQI+ allies to create a workplace culture that respects all diversity. For more information or to find out how you can get involved contact NSLHD-ODTeam@health.nsw. gov.au.

District got out their purple ribbons, socks and stickers to celebrate another year of Wear it Purple Day. Wear it Purple Day is an initiative that strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+). NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said the district is committed to delivering high quality, safe, inclusive and responsive healthcare for all LGBTQI+ young people. “The day reminds us we all have an important role to play in creating effective change to ensure our society and workplaces are equal for all people,” Deb said. “This year’s theme – ‘Still me, still human’ – captures the message of humanity, honesty, integrity and authenticity when discussing the diverse identities within the LGBTQI+ community.” NSLHD participated in the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) for the first

Staff from the district executive and RNSH dress up for the day

Ryde Hospital staff getting into the spirit



ALL EYES ON REVOLUTIONARY IMAGING TREATMENT AT RNSH A revolutionary treatment which can help identify

patients,” said Endovascular and Interventional Radiologist Dr Albert Goh, who oversaw an initial trial of the treatment at RNSH involving about 10 patients earlier this year. “It’s a wonderful addition to the treatment we are already offering patients. “It will help patients who are too medically fragile to be treated under anaesthetic. It’s also more minimally invasive, it can help reduce hospitalisations and it just offers patients an alternative treatment.” The flexible camera, which Albert described as similar to a noodle, is inserted into the patient’s bile duct and can help physicians receive an enhanced view of the exact spot for biopsy, allowing for significantly improved diagnoses. Offering an alternative to more traditional 2D x-ray imaging, it can help confirm malignant conditions such as pancreatic cancer, as well as gall and bile stones, cystic

lesions and benign conditions which could become more serious without immediate treatment. Although improving, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer in Australia is currently only about 10 per cent, among the lowest of all cancers and making early detection and treatment crucial. “There’ll always be patients not suitable for surgery for various reasons, so Spyglass can help us treat them,” said Albert. “By helping us diagnose these conditions earlier, it can also help reduce admissions to intensive care. “We had wonderful support from the gastrointestinal surgeons at RNSH which has helped us explore the use of Spyglass here. I’m really excited about its future uses. “We expect this revolutionary treatment will now be permanently integrated into RNSH’s imaging and interventional service.”

pancreatic cancer and other potentially life-threatening conditions earlier without needing surgery has been introduced at Royal North Shore Hospital. The SpyGlass treatment involves the insertion of a small camera through an incision near the liver into the bile ducts. Using the latest digital technology available, the camera provides even clearer images of areas including the biliary and pancreatic ducts and help detect potentially life- threatening conditions. RNSH’s medical imaging team is believed to be one of the first interventional radiology departments in Australia to permanently integrate the treatment, which can help doctors precisely locate and examine tissue without performing surgery and prevent multiple hospital visits for patients. “It’s a cutting-edge treatment but without us having to cut

Welcoming the use of the SpyGlass imaging treatment at RNSH are (from left) Section Senior Radiographer Sarah Toh, Interventional Radiologist Dr Albert Goh and Angiography Department nurses Georgia Klapos and Susana Tobar



Nina Sarkissian, Prof Martin Ugander, Prof Peter Cistulli, Dr Ben Harris and Dr Rebecca Kozor

unique study into cardiovascular disease and sleep apnoea With a disturbing number of people losing their lives to heart disease each year, researchers at RNSH have will be unique, uniting three major disciplines of cardiology, respiratory and sleep medicine, and

people. Known as the ‘silent killer’, this chronic disease causes low oxygen levels, sleep disturbance and dangerous pressure inside the chest. RNSH respiratory and sleep medicine specialist Professor Peter Cistulli will lead the study, collaborating with RNSH Head of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Dr Ben Harris, and leading experts in cardiac imaging Professor Martin Ugander and Dr Rebecca Kozor. Professor Cistulli said obstructive sleep

launched the first study of its kind using MRI technology to broaden our understanding of the link between cardiovascular disease and sleep apnoea. The project has been made possible following funding from the Ramsay Research Grant Program, and will involve clinician researchers from NSLHD and the University of Sydney. It follows the latest figures showing cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, killing one Australian every 12 minutes. This makes the research

radiology to develop a precision medicine approach,” he said.

“This would define which patients are at greatest risk and require personalised treatment.

“We hope our project will provide definitive

evidence of the relationship between sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease, closing our existing gaps in knowledge and informing future treatment approaches. “We would like to see this valuable research program drive a new approach, and one which will dramatically reduce the number of number of people who lose their lives prematurely with a combination of sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease.”

apnoea has been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease,

including hypertension, heart attack, atrial fibrillation and stroke – but there have been no randomised controlled trials confirming a causal link between the two. “Our CardioSleep Program

important and timely, especially given that

obstructive sleep apnoea is also increasing, and is now affecting around a billion


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



VIRTUAL HOSPITAL SHOWS THE WAY OF THE FUTURE COVID-19 was a step into the unknown for everyone involved in healthcare, but

Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Virtual

Hospital is a shining example of how the challenges have been met. Established just after the pandemic arrived in Australia and comprising a multi- disciplinary team of clinical and administrative staff, the service has provided at-home care to thousands of patients across the district. It has been crucial in ensuring the district’s hospitals were not overrun and patients with COVID-19 could recover at home, while also offering an early glimpse towards future models of ‘remote’ care for patients. For Renal Physician Dr Paul Collett, who was appointed Clinical Medical Director of the hospital, leading the service has been a challenging but rewarding experience. “I think the medical profession overall wanted to contribute whatever we could to get us through COVID, even though it was an unknown situation,” Dr Collett, a former Head of the Department of General Medicine at Royal North Shore Hospital who was given the role in early 2020, said. “I had been a department head and had clinical and management experience. I felt I had the necessary skill set for the position. I think we all felt COVID would place a huge strain on healthcare, but for me, this role was a challenge that had to be met.” Located on the St Leonards campus, the team of doctors, nurses and administrative

NSLHD’s Virtual Hospital is paving a way for future healthcare, Clinical Medical Director Paul Collett believes

staff triaged and treated all patients in the NSLHD with COVID-19 who were referred by all pathology services and the Public Health Unit. During the pandemic’s busiest times, the team made about 350 calls a day to patients of all ages and ethnic background across the district, managing their treatment virtually and discussing their symptoms and welfare needs. Daily meetings to discuss and assess management plans were needed, as well as appropriate responses to changed pandemic guidelines. Dr Collett’s duties also included working with other NSW local health districts and other State and Federal stakeholders to ensure the service worked most effectively. “Trying to switch off (from the pandemic) could be tough,” Dr Collett said. “It was about compartmentalising, even though COVID-19 was everywhere. I think that having a multi-disciplinary

effort from all involved and good communication across all teams was key to its efficiency. “Yes, there were some frustrations at times but that is always to be expected, especially during such an unusual situation.” Beyond COVID-19, the Virtual Hospital is playing an increasingly prominent role the district’s health service, treating a range of patients who don’t require hospital admission, but need care in their homes. “Keeping more patients out of hospital treated at home – when and where appropriate - is very much the way of the future,” Dr Collett, who expects to remain in his position with the Virtual Hospital until the end of 2022, said. “In some ways COVID has given us the skills and the drive to accelerate such changes to the way we worked. “It’s been challenging at times but I’m happy I’ve been part of a team that’s made a difference.”



(Left to right): MGP midwives Kim Baker, Jen Dixon, Heidi Partington, Julie Laherty, Katrina Allen

Hornsby midwifery group practice celebrates 11 years Hornsby Kuring-Gai Hospital Midwifery Group Practice

Partington, Julie Laherty, Katrina Allen, and midwifery unit manager Nicola Duffy recently came together with the families of last year’s births to celebrate another year of MGP care. Kim said the opportunity to celebrate another year of service and catch up with the families was a great way for the MGP team to be able to check in with mothers and their children. “It’s really great catching up with the women a year later and seeing how much their babies have grown,” she said. “They love coming to the birthday party as much as we love having it because they really value the model and the continuity it gives them.” implementation of the HP Records Manager System (TRIM) and managed the core structure and framework of corporate records and compliance. Carol has also helped on- board and train hundreds of staff members in the corporate policies and procedures field during her career. Reflecting on her time at NSLHD, Carol said the support she has received and the friendships she has formed across the district are what she will miss the most.

Both women and midwives value the program as they get to know each other through the course of a pregnancy, which enables the expecting mothers to have a known midwife at their birth. Kim said the journey the midwives are able to go on with expecting mothers makes the experience a special one. “The best thing about being an MGP midwife is getting to know the women during their pregnancy and birth, particularly when they return for subsequent babies,” she said. “It means we develop really lovely relationships with them.”

(MPG) recently celebrated 11 years of the maternity service.

MGP is a continuity of carer program whereby each midwife cares for

approximately 40 women per year, guiding them through the antenatal period, being on-call during their pregnancy and for labour and birth, and providing support at home for up to two weeks postnatally. The service is renowned for its enhanced outcomes for women and babies with increased normal birth rates, reduced incidences of epidurals and increased satisfaction for women. MGP midwives (pictured) Kim Baker, Jen Dixon, Heidi

NSLHD bids farewell to Carol Parker Northern Sydney Local Health District is bidding farewell to

Carol Parker after 40 years of service to the NSW Health system. Carol is retiring from her role as a corporate records, privacy and government information public access (GIPA) officer which she has held since 2010. Carol has worked across various roles within NSLHD and boasts an impressive list of achievements during her time. Most notably, Carol played a vital role in the

Carol Parker farewelled after 40 years of service to the NSW Health system

“I have been very grateful for the support I have received over the years in order to learn and be able to advance in my various roles,” she said. “I will really miss working with my wonderful colleagues across the district.”



GREAT TEAMWORK ENSURES SMOOTH RUNNING OF EXAM DAY Dedicated volunteers helped ensure a successful Royal Australasian College of patients in the current environment.

“The day itself is very busy and there were a lot of new faces having to learn the rules. “The candidates’ feedback has been excellent - they felt everything was fair and ran smoothly. I have also received emails from patients expressing their happiness with the day.” The exams, which followed a written assessment earlier this year, took place at public hospitals across the country. “Having trained at Royal North Shore Hospital myself, I saw the amount of work that went into my own exam,” Hannah said. “Helping provide a successful exam is my way of ‘paying it forward’. “We have to give the candidates every opportunity to become well-rounded physicians who will contribute to healthcare. It’s incredibly rewarding being part of an event helping achieve that. “It’s a labour of love from everyone involved, but a great effort.”

Physicians’ (RACP) clinical examination day at Royal North Shore Hospital. The exam is a critical part of candidates’ training and assesses their clinical and interpersonal skills and acumen. It required the recruitment of about 40 appropriate patients to participate as volunteers. Sixteen candidates sat the exam, which reverted back to the pre-COVID traditional format, held under ‘face-to- face’ conditions. This was after two years of COVID- enforced restrictions involving partly remote assessment. RNSH Medical Oncologist and Senior Medical Registrar Dr Hannah Ainsworth, who oversaw the exam on Saturday, July 30, said it had been a great effort from a 30-strong team of volunteers. “Over the last four weeks I probably spoke to about 60 patients who were identified as suitable (participants) but several people in that time caught COVID or for other reasons couldn’t eventually participate,” she said. “It was certainly very challenging finding suitable VALE Eileen Gordon Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary member Eileen Gordon sadly passed away on Saturday August 6, 2022. Eileen provided over 20 years of service to Mona Vale Hospital’s Auxiliary and was a major contributor. Eileen’s work set the foundation for all the fundraising activities the Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary conducts such as stalls, sausage sizzles and raffles. Eileen was named the

Dr Hannah Ainsworth said great teamwork helped ensure a successful RACP exam day at RNSH

Chris Dennis, who also assisted coordination of the examinations, said the event demonstrated the commitment to effective teamwork at RNSH. “I thought there was a fantastic feeling of goodwill among everyone who was involved – including the patients - which is so good to see after all the hardship everyone has experienced over the last couple of years,” he said. “It was truly an understated expression of our collegiality and strength as a hospital.” Hannah thanked Dr Kate Ahmad and Dr Adrian Lee for their assistance, the Basic Physicians Trainee Unit, trainee physicians, volunteers, patients and everyone who helped with the day.

Northern Sydney Local Health District Executive Medical Director A/Prof

Pittwater Woman of the Year in 2010, the recipient of the Federal Member’s Award for Contribution to the Health Service to the Community in 2012, and the Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Brookvale in 2013. Eileen was also presented with Life Membership of the Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary in 2013 and Life Membership of the Urban History Association in 2018 in recognition of her work.

Eileen Gordon

Mona Vale Hospital and the Northern Sydney Local Health District offers their sincere condolences to Eileen’s family, friends and members of the Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary.




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