NSLHD News May 6 2022

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


Main story Short blurb Strong ideas mark Innovation Program’s comeback The Innovation Program’s Pitch Event has returned with a splash of cash Pages 4 and 5 Read more on Page x

New book connects parents with premature or sick babies Page 7

celebrating nslhd midwives Page 3


I was pleased to see that our hospital Emergency Departments were rated highly by our patients in the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) patient survey results released recently. In particular Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital was rated one of the highest performing EDs in NSW, but all of our Emergency Departments had some wonderfully positive feedback from our patients. This patient survey was undertaken during 2020-21 and at a time when there were significant changes on how services were delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic. These results are a testament to all staff working in our EDs who provide the best high-quality compassionate care to our patients. As winter approaches, we are being reminded to ensure we protect ourselves against influenza. The best way to do that is to get your flu shot. We are already seeing a number of cases of the flu in the community as many people return to their regular pre- pandemic activities. I know many of our staff have taken the opportunity to receive their influenza vaccination, but if you have not done so yet – please do so as soon as you can. As well as influenza, COVID-19 continues to circulate in our community so if you haven’t had your booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccination please do so as soon as possible to protect yourself, your family and those you care for. Remember the flu vaccines can be safely co-administered (on the same day) with COVID-19 vaccines, so there is no need to delay either vaccine. It is no secret the past couple of years have been tough, especially for our incredible nurses and midwives. On Thursday 5

May we celebrated International Day of the Midwife, a time for celebrating the compassionate care, devotion and kindness our midwives provide to thousands of women and their families. Last year our midwives across the district helped bring more than 5500 babies into the world. The support, education and care our midwives provide stays with women and their families long after they have left the care of our hospitals and services. Our midwives take on such a special role in so many people’s lives, putting women and their family at the centre of care and at the heart of every decision. Their dedication and skill has such a huge impact at such a life-changing time. Thank you to all our midwives working across our hospitals, services and in the community. Next week on Thursday 12 May, we will be celebrating International Nurses Day. I know there are a number of events planned across the district and I look forward to attending those I can to celebrate with you. I know how challenging this has been, both professionally and personally, and I cannot thank you enough for taking on this role and continuing to provide the best care to our patients during this time. I am constantly impressed by your resilience but I assure you this is not taken for granted and we are doing everything we can to support you to provide the very best care to our patients.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Royal North Shore Hospital midwives celebrating International Day of the Midwife

international day of the midwife Hampers, cupcakes, games and awards kicked off the celebrations for International Day of the Midwife at Hornsby Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital.

care, devotion and kindness our midwives provide to thousands of women and their families every year. “The support, education and care our midwives provide stays with women and their families long after they have left the care of our hospitals and services,” she said. “Our midwives take on such a special role in so many people’s lives, putting women and their family at the centre of care and at the heart of every decision. “Their dedication and skill has such a huge impact at such a life-changing time. “Thank you to all our midwives working across our hospitals, services and in the community.”

Midwives across Northern Sydney Local Health District are celebrated every year on 5 May. Last year midwives across the district helped bring more than 5500 babies into the world This year’s theme is 100 Years of Progress. One hundred years ago, the International Midwives Union (IMU) was created in Belgium, which was the forerunner of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said it is a time for celebrating the compassionate

(Left to right): NSLHD Director of Nursing and Midwifery Claire Harris and Hornsby Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Midwifer Drew Hilditch- Roberts and Hornsby Hospital Maternity Unit Manager Sonya Holley



The Bright Lights for Kids team with CE Deb Willcox

Strong ideas mark Innovation Program’s comeback The Innovation Program’s Pitch Event has returned with a splash of cash after four strong ideas went toe- to-toe for the first time in a year. Chief Executive Deb Willcox program for older people living with mental illness, allowing them to have their physical, psychological and social needs met. “When the idea first

for participants, with the $8100 she was awarded able to cover transport for participants to and from the sessions, as well as a psychologist to devise the program. Participants will also engage in a strength and balance exercise group run by an aged care physiotherapist. “This directly addresses a service gap recognised by the NSW Mental Health Commission,“ she said. “I’m hoping that this will set the precedence to become the gold standard of care in both the public and private sectors, so all mental health

actualised, I thought that a group environment will help our older, frail mental health consumers learn life skills to cope with their mental illness,” Charis said. “Through further discussion with an Older Persons Mental Health OT, I realised how powerful social connection is in helping older people recover from their complex mental illness. Charis’ idea removes barriers

and the judging panel of Executive Director of Operations Lee Gregory and Director of Clinical Governance Mark Zacka faced a difficult decision, but ultimately it was Royal North Shore Hospital Physiotherapist Charis Tse who came out on top with her idea ‘Power Up!’ Power Up! is a district-first, one stop shop small group

Chris Bruntsch and Maura Farrell present their pitch Best of Both Worlds

Madeleine Borys, Deb Willcox and Felicity Smith



Charise Tse presents her pitch Power Up!

consumers are given the opportunity to recover.” Deb said she was impressed by the innovative ideas and polished pitches of the participants after the program’s hiatus. “COVID meant we had to take an enforced break from the program, but it was great to see it come back with a bang,” she said. “Most of the ideas were a direct result of COVID-19, and while there can only be one winner on the night, we are definitely exploring how we can make the other pitches come to life – because they will also have a strong, positive impact on patient care.”

Royal North Shore Emergency Department’s Bright Lights for Kids pitch from Alison Partyka, Danielle Coats and Stephanie Millet finished second and took home the audience-voted Best Presenter category. Hornsby Hospital’s 4C diversional therapist Felicity Smith and Clinical Nurse Educator Madeleine Borys finished third with their idea ‘Healing Hands’, while Best of Both Worlds from Royal North Shore Cardiology’s Maura Farrell and Chris Bruntsch also impressed. As Charis revels in her win – she encouraged other to apply if they have an idea that could change patient

care for the better. “I didn’t apply for the pitch expecting to win – I merely dared to dream. No idea is too small and anything is possible,” she said. “And if you’re lucky enough to be invited to speak at the pitch event – practice, practice, practice – my team, my friends and family, including the family dogs have heard my speech many, many times!” You can apply now for Round Two of the 2022 Innovation Program. If you have any questions please contact NSLHD- InnovationProgram@health. nsw.gov.au

Maura Farrell, Deb Willcox and Chris Bruntsch

The Bright Lights for Kids team after their pitch



Ground breaking approach to emergency care in NSW New funding will see a

overcrowded waiting rooms, ambulance ramping, time- poor clinicians and long wait times,” she said. “Overcrowding causes delays in treatment and diagnosis, leading to adverse events and poor patient outcomes. “Our current models of care are not equipped to deal with this or designed to help patients move through ED efficiently in these situations.” “The EPIC-START model of care however, will implement data analytic tools and evidence-based clinical pathways to improve patient flow.” The model focuses on faster decision-making and delivery of care. Validated decision support tools will be used at triage to stream patients to various parts of the hospital, with treatments commenced earlier using standardised nurse-initiated pathways across all common illnesses presenting to ED.

“The project will upskill emergency nurses to ensure all patients attending emergency departments have access to earlier evidence- based interventions, like pain relief, blood tests and x-rays, rather than waiting hours for a despite early interventions will be flagged to senior doctors using electronic alerts based on data in the electronic medical record. This will improve efficiency and safety. “Our approach is founded on reviews of the literature, our local research outcomes and our real-world experience in emergency departments over the past decade. It’s now time to upscale this model for all NSW emergency patients. doctor to order them. “Those who deteriorate “We would like to see a stronger system where all Australians have timely access to high-quality, patient centred emergency care, by using sustainable and data- driven approaches.”

large-scale project launched across NSW to significantly improve patient outcomes and experiences in emergency departments. Chief investigator and senior NSLHD clinician researcher Professor Margaret Fry said more than $2.8 million will be invested in the EPIC- START program, giving patients better access to early evidence-based treatment pathways. Thirty emergency departments will initially be involved in the project which is aimed at achieving better outcomes through earlier decisions, delivery of care and detection of clinical deterioration. Professor Fry said a new approach is needed with our emergency departments across NSW facing unprecedented demand. “We know that millions of Australians seeking care in our EDs are confronted by

Hornsby Hospital is brushing up on its oral hygiene skills It is the daily ritual that can be sometimes overlooked when patients come to hospital with illness or injury, but brushing our pearly whites is vital for preventing further infections. The BRUSH project has been Clinical Nurse Consultant Michelle Noon said poor oral hygiene led to an increase in hospital acquired respiratory infections. “When we surveyed some patients about if they wanted any oral equipment (like

launched recently aiming to improve patients’ oral hygiene practices while they are in hospital. BRUSH stands for Brush your teeth, Rinse when appropriate, Sit patient Upright, Standardise practice, Hand out oral health products. Led by clinical nurse consultants, speech pathologists and the dental clinic, BRUSH raises the awareness among nursing staff, patients and their carers of the importance of keeping up our daily routine of brushing teeth.

toothbrushes) they said no and they were treating their stay in hospital like an oral hygiene holiday,” she said. “Once you explain there is a direct link between poor oral hygiene and health acquired respiratory infections, many don’t realise. “One of the barriers for patients, especially during these recent times, is that they present to emergency department with COVID-19 and aren’t prepared, so they are admitted and don’t realise

they can ask a nurse for toothbrushes.”

Patients will see posters and tooth brushing prompts in the wards, while staff are being trained in prioritising access to oral health products for patients, as well as assisting patients who need help.




When it was recommended to new parents Hannah and Nick Stenmark to read to their premature baby Jett at Royal North Shore Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) they could not find a book relating to their story. Jett was born more than three months premature and spent 90 days in the NICU. “It was not an easy ride – Jett had a hole in his heart, needed prolonged breathing support, was fed milk by a tube, had a testicular hernia, digestion issues, and his lung collapsed,” Hannah said. “As we were about to go home, we discovered his retina was starting to detach due to his retinopathy and he needed urgent laser surgery to prevent him from going blind.” When looking for books to read to Jett, Hannah and Nick could not find a book that related to their family’s journey in the NICU. “There are very few books designed for this purpose, so we decided to write and illustrate our own called ‘Your little head start’,” Nick said. “We have been there and know how hard it is. We hope our book helps parents feel connected to their child at a time when all hope feels lost.” Over the next year, each family whose baby is cared for in the RNSH NICU will be gifted a copy of Hannah and Nick’s book to support them on their journey. Clinical Professor Michael Nicholl who is the Clinical Director of Maternal, Neonatal and Women’s Health Network at Northern Sydney

Local Health District said whilst advances in care for premature infants over the past several decades have improved survival, there are risks of subsequent language and reading difficulties. “Prolonged stays in NICU can be highly stressful for parents, who are often anxious about how they can help their child,” he said. “Research has found that reading to premature babies supports both brain and language development and provides vital exposure to language. “Story time is a special way to bond with your baby and can help them to feel loved and secure.” NICU Nurse Unit Manager Alexis Fox said reading to your baby does not only benefit the newborn but also helps the parents. “Hannah and Nick’s book is an aid for any parent dealing with the confronting reality of having a premature or sick

baby,” Alexis said. “It will soothe parents on their journey and help them connect to their baby who would love to hear their voice, and can give parents a sense of purpose and involvement Hannah and Nick said they are so thankful for the care and support during their time at the Royal North Shore Hospital NICU. “It is the scariest thing that has ever happened to us, and coming to terms with reality was really hard,” Hannah said. “Early in our journey we fought worry all day, every day, praying that our little boy would make it. during long hours spent beside their baby in the NICU.” “We are so grateful for the amazing team for saving our son and giving him quality of life.” Every year around 600 babies are cared for in the NICU at Royal North Shore Hospital.

(Left to right): NICU NUM Alexis Fox, Clinical Professor Michael Nicholl, Hannah, Jett and Nick Stenmark




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d often this goes beyond just

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For us, the general wellbeing, rehabilitation and mental health of

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