NSLHD News March 31 2023

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


Main story New approach for ovarian cancer research Dr Emily Colvin from the Kolling says there is hope following some promising advances. Page 7 Short blurb Read more on Page x

District audit team awarded top gong Page 5

NSLHD celebrates World Oral Health Day Page 3


There has been a lot to celebrate across our district over the last few weeks. It was great to see recognition for our medical staff in full swing for Doctor’s Day. This important day gives us all a chance to stop and acknowledge the continued dedication our doctors make to patients and the wider community. I would like to thank this opportunity to thank all of doctors across the district. Harmony Week, an important reminder for us to celebrate our diverse and multicultural communities, our different cultures, backgrounds and life experiences. Our diverse workforce reflects the communities we care for and helps our patients and consumers to feel confident the care they receive is respectful and appropriate. Two years ago, we launched our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Employee Network which comes together to ensure our current and future workforce feel valued and supported to contribute, develop, and progress at our district. To get involved in the network please email our Organisational Development and Capability team NSLHD-ODTeam@ health.nsw.gov.au. It is always a highlight visiting our staff across the district. This week I visited the Northern Sydney Home Nursing Service (NSHNS) which does a fantastic job providing a high level of care to patients in the comfort of their homes and in clinical settings. It was a pleasure to meet the NSHNS team and I look forward to following the great work being done by the service.

The Quality and Improvement Awards provide an opportunity to formally recognise staff and their commitment and hard work to providing the best care for staff, patients, consumers and their families. I encourage everyone to get their entries in by next Friday 6 April. For more information on the awards and how to apply, visit https://bit.ly/EPA- 2022 The district is hosting its first Administrative Professional Awards in April. These awards are a way to formally recognise and thank administrative professionals for the incredible daily work they provide to support staff in delivering excellent health and wellbeing outcomes for our patients and consumers. I look forward to following the awards and shining a light on the critical work our administrative professionals do. To nominate an administrative professional, complete the nomination form and submit to NSLHD- ExecutiveUnitConferences@health.nsw. gov.au. Submissions close 14 April.

Lee Gregory I/Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Social workers at RNSH came together to celebrate the day

World Social Work Day Social workers at Royal North Shore Hospital recently came together to celebrate World Social Work Day on 21 March. World Social Work Day is celebrated every year to acknowledge the contributions social workers make to communities around the world. This year’s there was ‘Respecting Diversity through Joint Social Action’. RNSH Social Work Health Professional Educator Louise Finnegan said the day is an opportunity to bring light to the broad range of work social workers do. “Social workers play a vital role to ensure a patient and their social system is considered when exploring options for health

intervention and care planning,” she said. “It’s great to have a day to recognise the work social workers do and particularly the work they do around this year’s theme of respecting diversity. “Across the district our social workers consistently promote inclusion and embrace diversity, as well as focus on the strengths and abilities of people to make choices for their own lives.” Staff were treated to a presentation by Lila Rhodes from ACON, NSW’s leading HIV and sexuality and gender diverse health organisation, followed by a lunch. “We want to empower people with knowledge on what services are provided by us here at NSLHD and how the community can access them.” The NSLHD Oral Health Service consists of four dental clinics - RNSH Community Health Centre; Hornsby Hospital; Brookvale Community Health Centre and Top Ryde Dental Clinic. The service offers a range of dental services including general dentistry and emergency dental services to all children under 18 years old and eligible adults who hold a health care card, pensioner concession card or commonwealth senior’s health card.

NSLHD celebrates Oral Health staff Oral health staff across the district recently celebrated World Oral Health Day.

This year’s theme “Be Proud of Your Mouth” focused on the importance of caring for your mouth at every stage of life. To mark the day, stalls were set up at Royal North Shore and Hornsby hospitals by staff to help raise awareness about oral health and the services provided across the district. NSLHD Oral Health Services Business Manager Anju Sharma said the day is an important way to raise awareness about oral health and the impact it has on overall health and happiness. “World Oral Health Day highlights how a healthy mouth is important for our happiness and well-being,” she said.



Community giving back at Mona Vale Hospital Yvonne Parsons has been a member of the Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary for the last 13 years and has been a volunteer at Mona Vale Hospital for most of that time.

performance and works with the hospital executive to promote effective community consultation and partnership.” Mona Vale Hospital General Manager Mathivanan Sakthivel said there are a range of activities volunteers can do to enhance patient and consumer care. “The activities could range from being a companion to help with activities such as taking around the tea and snacks trolley, playing bingo or watching movies with patients,” he said. “Community members giving their time to enhance consumer experience at the hospital makes a difference to the care we provide. “As a volunteer there is great opportunity to gain some new skills, experience and be linked with the community.” To find out more about how you can be part of the auxiliary or volunteer at Mona Vale Hospital please contact NSLHD- MVHVolunteer@health.nsw.gov.au.

“The hospital provides a valuable service to the community,” Yvonne, who is the Honorary President of the auxiliary, said. “Volunteering is a way of giving back and helping the hospital help the community.” Since 2017 the Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary has gifted close to $2 million to the hospital to fund equipment that enhances care to the patients. The auxiliary run local stalls at Pittwater Place and Bunnings Belrose to raise funds. “We have a dedicated team but are always ready to welcome new members,” Yvonne said. “Volunteers can also become members of the consumer participation committee that provides advice on hospital planning and

Volunteers from the Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary at the 2022 AGM

The NSLHD internal audit team welcomed the award

SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS 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 NSLHD internal audit team welcomed the award

District audit team awarded top gong The Northern Sydney Local Health District’s internal audit team have won the inaugural Institute of Internal Auditors Australia (IIA) ‘Internal Audit Team of the Year’ for 2022. The announcement was made at the IIA South Pacific and Asia Conference held in Brisbane. The award recognises internal audit teams that excel in the provision of internal audit services and recognises leaders in the field in the practice of internal audit within Australia. The team were found to have exemplified a high level of integrity, skill, expertise and outstanding team performance as part of the judging from the IIA. NSLHD Director of Internal Audit Louise Derley, who is currently on secondment as the A/Director of the Internal Audit Branch at NSW Health, said it was a privilege to be acknowledged for the work the team have undertaken across the district. “I’ve been really fortunate to be able to lead such a wonderful team at NSLHD and to have the support we’ve had,” she said. “This award is a credit to all of the hard work the team has done and it was wonderful to be acknowledged at an international conference.” stay up to date with Nslhd on social media nthsydhealth RYDE HOSPITAL ROYAL NORTH SHORE HOSPITAL Hornsby Hospital Mona Vale HOSPITAL nslhd mhda






NSLHD welcomes new graduate health management trainees The growing graduate health management contingent at Northern Sydney Local Health District has two new members. “It was from here that I first began to explore the world of public health; an area that was

not only fascinating to me, but that also presented a clear path to make a positive difference in the world.” James and Sasha said they have both been made to feel welcome since beginning the program “Everyone has been so helpful and welcoming at both our initial week long stint at Royal North Shore Hospital and for me now at Hornsby Hospital – it has been a fantastic start,” James said. “Everyone has been so welcoming and happy to answer any questions. I’ve felt very fortunate already to be in an environment which is so friendly and geared towards helping you learn,” Sasha said.

James Boland and Sasha Nielsen have joined NSLHD as part of the 2022 iteration of the program and will work alongside the 2022 cohort. The two-year program has been created to establish the next generation of leaders in health management. They will be provided opportunities to gain work experience in a number of areas including executive and operational management as well as finance. Sasha completed a Bachelor of Psychology at the University of New South Wales. Her first placement is at Ryde Hospital under the mentorship of Acting General Manager Jenny McConnell. Sasha said a big part of what motivated her to join the program was her desire to help people live their healthiest lives whilst learning from public health leaders.

“I have always wanted to contribute to helping people live their healthiest lives and pursued

psychology thinking I wanted do that as a clinician,” she said.

“Throughout my degree I realised my passion was broader and I wanted to make the capacity to live a healthy life something attainable for everyone. “When I saw there was an opportunity in my local health district to learn from people leading the way in public healthcare, I was interested right away.” James completed a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Sydney and his first placement is at Hornsby Hospital under General Manager Simon Hill. James said his experience during his studies played a big role in wanting to join the public health system. “My honours research took me into the field of health psychology, specifically in the areas of vaccination messaging and social influences on treatment side-effects,” he said.

Sasha Nielsen and James Boland



New approach revolutionising ovarian cancer research With ovarian cancer continuing to have a devastating outcome for many women, new research at the Kolling Institute is offering hope.

initiation of ovarian cancer will help us develop effective treatments. “The microenvironment plays a huge role in how a patient will respond to therapy or develop resistance to drugs, or whether the cancer will metastasise, yet it has been largely ignored in ovarian cancer research.” Researchers hope to understanding how cancer cells communicate with their microenvironment, we will be able to better target them. Emily said trying to discover why the microenvironment in ovarian cancer is a bit different to other cancers and why it’s more resistant to immunotherapy. “We are also keen to get started with liquid biopsy research. It’s radically replacing the need for tissue biopsy with blood tests that can tell us about a patient’s tumour. This has the potential to really change the way we treat all cancers, but particularly ovarian tumours,” she said. “We would like to see more research funding and advocacy so that we can really change outcomes. We’ve seen that with breast cancer, but we just don’t get that type of funding for gynaecological cancers. “We hope that with greater support, we could accelerate the development of an early diagnostic test, which would save so many lives.”

The disease has the lowest survival rate of any women’s cancer, with only 48 per cent of women living beyond five years after diagnosis. Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late because the symptoms are vague, like bloating, nausea, indigestion, excessive tiredness, and a change in bowel habits, and unlike other cancers, there is no early diagnostic test. Dr Emily Colvin from the Kolling says there is hope following some promising advances. Her team has identified new genes involved in the spread of ovarian cancer, and they are now also focusing on the role of the tumour microenvironment, which provides the support network for the tumour cells to survive. “We have identified new genes that are switched on in these fibroblasts and influence ovarian tumour spread. These genes may play a role in how tumours avoid destruction by the immune system,” she said. “We have been investigating the role of a specific cell in the ovarian tumour microenvironment called a cancer-associated fibroblast. “Knowledge of the genes involved in the

Dr Emily Colvin



Get a team together and fundraise for the NORTH Foundation, the official charity of the NSLHD. Show your support for a department or research area that matters to you. Register now!

NSLHD staff who got their runners on for the NORTH Foundation in 2022

“Our patients, their families and our service deserve the best so I thought something good could come from me doing the 14km running challenge!” Geoff Yates Nurse Unit Manager Manly Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice

“I did City2Surf because I like a challenge and wanted to raise funds and awareness for our trauma patients who deserve and need the best care in a tough situation.”

Dr Chris Bowles Trauma and Emergency Physician Royal North Shore Hospital

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