NSLHD News December 17 2021

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


Main story Short blurb commem ating covid-19 contribution As a oken of appreciation, staff members across the district will receive a special edition pin, commemorating their efforts against COVID-19. Read more on Page 6-7 Read more on Page x

hornsby hospital’s new emergency department opens Page 4

AYAH CONTinues taking shape Page 3


Message from the Chief Executive Deb Willcox

As this year draws to a close I want to express my gratitude to you all – staff and volunteers – who have done such an incredible job as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and also provide high-quality care to our community. None of us ever would have thought we would be part of history, working in healthcare in a one in 100-year pandemic. Every staff member from every corner of our district had a role in our response and while it has been a very difficult time it has also been historic. I wanted to provide staff with something lasting that you may be able to look back on in years to come with a sense of pride and accomplishment. By now, many of you will have received a commemorative pin which is a symbol of thanks and recognition for the contribution you have made during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020-21. I was fortunate to personally hand out some of the pins to some staff when I came to visit hospitals and community health centres over the past two weeks. We know we still have a long way to go in this pandemic, and it is not yet clear what this new variant will bring, but regardless in the past 20 months you have displayed the very best of our health system. I hope the pin is a lasting reminder of your important and historical contribution. It has certainly been busy since lockdown ended and we have seen the return of many

of our patients, as well as staff who were redeployed to other parts of the health system, and those who worked from home. Many of you have not had a break or holiday and have shown such dedication to your patients, colleagues and the overall opportunity over the holiday period to have some much needed down time and enjoy some rest and recreation. I want to thank staff who are working through the festive season and caring for our patients at such a significant time when they are away from their families. I hope you get some time to be with your family and friends soon. Thank you again for all of your hard work. Have a safe and happy festive season and I look forward to working with each and every one of you in 2022. health response to this pandemic. I hope that many of you take the

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



(Left to right): Member for Manly James Griffin MP, Health Minister Brad Hazzard, NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox and Health Infrastructure Executive Director Leisa Rathborne

Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice continues taking shape Major works are due to

equally as excited to see the foundations being prepared. “This incredible project is Australia’s first dedicated hospice caring for young people with life-limiting illness and will provide support to families from all over NSW,” Mr Hazzard said. “The facility will give young people and their families a tranquil, supportive environment at the most difficult of times by providing respite care, counselling, symptom management and end-of-life care.” Member for Manly James Griffin said the Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice will work closely with dedicated children’s hospice, Bear Cottage, to assist families to continue to care for young people as they become adults. “Each year, about a quarter of admissions to Bear Cottage are over the age of 16 and there has been no

appropriate place for them to move to,” Mr Griffin said. “No matter where someone is from in NSW, this beautiful state-of-the-art facility in Manly will be a welcoming place for young adults who are diagnosed with life- limiting conditions.” More than $6.5 million has been raised for this project through generous community donations, which has been boosted by an $8 million investment from the NSW Government and $5 million from the Commonwealth Government. Health Infrastructure is working closely with the Northern Sydney Local Health District and expert clinicians to deliver the hospice, which will be located at the former Manly Hospital site on the North Head headland. Construction is due for completion late next year.

begin next week on the $19.5 million Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice, marking a significant milestone for the unique facility. The hospice, which will be operated by Northern Sydney Local Health District, sits on land at the former Manly Hospital site. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Member for Manly James Griffin MP inspected progress of the build ahead of the first major concrete pour, alongside Chief Executive Deb Willcox and Health Infrastructure’s Executive Director (Northern) Leisa Rathborne. “Our district is incredibly fortunate to be home to this facility, and I know it will make a really positive impact for not just young adults and their families in Sydney, but also the whole of NSW,” Deb said. Minister Hazzard was



(Left to right): Hornsby Hospital Director of Nursing and Midwifery Drew Hilditch-Roberts, Director of the Emergency Department Dr Andrew Brown, first patient to the new ED, ED NUM Rosalyn Ferguson, Hornsby Hospital General Manager Simon Hill

Hornsby Hospital’s new emergency department opens Boasting almost three times the floor space of the old The ED has retained the same entry but the

As part of the hospital’s $265 million redevelopment, the emergency department underwent a refurbishment and was expanded to meet the needs of the local community in the future. There are separate, and larger, clinical zones including the resuscitation bays, short- stay unit and paediatrics.

emergency department (ED), Hornsby’s new ED has been built for the future. As staff come to learn the new layout, patients are enjoying the modern features and new waiting areas which include charging stations and improved seating.

ambulance bay has changed along with traffic conditions. Staff have welcomed the larger communal dining areas and the offices and there is improved flow to the medical imaging department for clinicians.

Research leadership honoured The Director of the Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre Professor Margaret Fry has received a prestigious quality care based on the best available evidence. “This award directs

University of Technology Sydney award celebrating research excellence. The Dean of the Faculty of Health presented the award, recognising an outstanding commitment to innovation, excellence, leadership and teamwork. Professor Fry said she is proud to have received the award especially after such an extraordinary year. “2021 has been a challenging year for all health workers as we responded to the changing needs of our community,” she said. “Despite the hurdles, I’ve worked with our nursing and midwifery colleagues to provide the highest possible

the spotlight to our nursing and midwifery research leadership and our contribution to practice change.

“The NSLHD Nursing and Midwifery research program is extensive and our centre supports clinicians to improve the care our patients receive through evidence- based practice change. “I’m tremendously proud of this award as it recognises excellence in leadership through research training, mentorship, collaboration and consultation. “The award also highlights

Professor Margaret Fry

the contribution to the development of research expertise, enhanced patient care, and innovation in nursing and midwifery. “This approach aligns with the strategic goals of both the university and NSLHD and will ensure our community consistently receives the very best care.”



(Left to right): Amber Tratter from Australian Network on Disability (on screen), Executive Sponsor for Disability Inclusion James Stormon, Dr Graeme Innes AM, Educational Consultant Sue Melville, CE Deb Willcox, Consumer Advisor Adam Johnson

International Day of People with Disability Northern Sydney Local Health District recently celebrated all people with made in workforce diversity and inclusion.

The forum follows the work already on the first Diversity Inclusion and Belonging Strategy last year. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said this important work has led to the establishment of the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Council and employee networks which are the engine rooms of the strategy. “We know that when our workforce better reflects the communities we serve and truly values difference, we will enhance our employee experience, our employee experience, and our organisational performance,” she said. “Integral to this is our aim to develop a culture of support and respect for people with disability and their carers, a culture that reflects their contributions and supports reasonable adjustments to be made to maximise their input.”

“Whether the disability is neurological, physical or sensory - visible or not visible – all people across our organisation deserve to be treated with respect and feel included,” he said. In the past year the district has achieved a few important steps in its disability inclusion agenda such as, updating recruitment processes and the orientation program to enable support of reasonable adjustments for employees and candidates with disability. Other changes include a Supplier Code of Conduct for the procurement process that aligns the organisation with businesses that support diversity and inclusivity; and a workplace adjustment procedure to support access to adjustments in the workplace.

disability whether a member of staff, a volunteer, a patient, or a carer for a person with disability as the organisation held its first International Day of People with Disability forum. Guest speakers joined the forum including Graeme Innes AM, author and former disability discrimination commissioner and Amber Tratter, senior relationships manager, of Australian Network on Disability, along with NSLHD staff who gave powerful personal accounts of living and working with a disability. NSLHD Executive Sponsor for Disability Inclusion James Stormon said the forum was a chance for the organisation to acknowledge people with a disability across the district, as well a look at what progress the district has



CE Deb Willcox with Hornsby Hospital staff and their new pins

New pin helps commemorate COVID-19 contribution The pandemic has shaped the lives of almost

contribution,” Deb said. “It’s a very small token of our appreciation, but a symbol of our thanks and recognition of our staff’s contribution to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21. “We can proudly say ‘we did it and we did it together’. The challenges of living with the virus are far from over, but I’m cautiously optimistic.” The pin has been specially designed, with a shield on the front representing protection against the virus, while the white cross symbolises healthcare and the efforts of staff to protect and care for the community. All staff members will receive a pin, in the coming weeks and into the New Year.

everyone for almost the past two years, but none more so than people working in healthcare. As a token of appreciation, staff members across our district have started to receive a special edition pin, commemorating their efforts against COVID-19 to date, with deliveries beginning to take place across the district. Chief Executive Deb Willcox was on hand to personally hand out some of the pins to staff. “We’re a part of history, and we wanted to provide staff with something lasting that they may look back on in the years to come and reminisce on their important and historic

CE Deb Willcox with Hornsby Hospital ED Dr Andrew Brown

CE Deb Willcox handing out pins at Mona Vale Hospital



CE Deb Willcox handing out pins at Royal North Shore Hospital

Staff at Mona Vale Hospital with CE Deb Willcox

Ryde Hospital Clinical Nurse Educator Corrine Adams with her pin

Ryde Hospital staff with General Manager Heather Gough



Christmas with Dignity caps off remarkable year After a tough year for

The meals were provided in collaboration with Vinnies and The Dish in Hornsby, as well as being delivered to referred individuals and families in the district’s local government areas. These meals and hampers were delivered with funds donated by staff who opted in to make a meaningful difference straight from their pay checks. All donations are taken out of your pay before it is taxed and does not affect gross income or other calculations, such as superannuation guarantee payments or Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). Dignity CEO and Founder Suzanne Hopman: “This year, people already at risk of homelessness have continued to be pushed closer to the edge and the need for food relief continues to be great and we are so thankful for the researchers found that when it was hotter, the risk of preterm birth increased for all women and particularly for women with diabetes, hypertension, chronic illness and those who smoke. On days where it was hotter than 33 degrees the risk of preterm birth increased by 12 per cent compared with a 20 degree day. This increase in risk was potentially higher for women with diabetes (29 per cent), hypertension (29 per cent), chronic illness (17 per cent) and those who smoked during pregnancy (19 per cent). Lead study author Edward Jegasothy PhD said it was the first study to link effects of extreme weather and preterm birth in the temperate climate of New South Wales.

ongoing support of the staff of NSLHD which has meant we have been able to work towards meeting this need in Northern Sydney.” “The generous donations made to our Christmas with Dignity campaign are currently being delivered to people in the community who are facing financial hardship and at risk of homelessness. On behalf of Dignity, thank you to everyone who has donated.”

everyone, Northern Sydney Local Health District’s staff made an incredible impact for those who are less fortunate. Partnering with Dignity, the district’s workplace giving partner, NSLHD contributed to Dignity’s Christmas appeal which in total produced more than 500 Christmas hampers, which is 100 more than 2020. Dignity will deliver the hampers and gifts across the district thanks to the tremendous support from district staff via the collection of gift Christmas Trees at donations, more than 3700 meals and 200 hampers were provided between July and December to around 700 local residents who were at risk of homelessness as part of the food relief program. hospital locations. In addition to these women are more likely to have a preterm birth when exposed to extreme heat and those with pre-existing conditions may have an even higher risk. Preterm or premature birth, when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of infant death worldwide and many children born early deal with ongoing health problems for the remainder of their lives. The team from Women and Babies Research at the Kolling Institute and the University of Sydney examined over 918,000 births in NSW over a ten-year period. The study found about 29,000 or 3.2 per cent of babies were born as a result of preterm birth. Importantly,

CE Deb Willcox with donations for Dignity

Research: extreme heat increases risk of premature births Researchers have found that

“We now have a better understanding of the

relationship between extreme heat and preterm births. Our study adds to the growing body of evidence regarding the health impacts of climate change-related exposures. This is particularly important given the increasing temperatures and heatwave events not just in Australia, but globally,” he said. “These findings are also important given the long term and significant implications of preterm births and the potentially exacerbated risk in mothers with underlying health conditions.” The findings encourage pregnant women to stay well hydrated and reduce their exposure to extreme heat.



Hey You Mob attracts the attention of judges

An initiative to work with the Aboriginal community to overcome barriers in accessing healthcare services has earned a highly commended award in a field of 27 competitors at a national event. NSLHD Mental Health Drug and Alcohol (MHDA) services cultural engagement Hey You Mob, Tell Us You Are Here program received praise from the judges at the 24th Annual ACHS Quality Improvement Awards 2021. Standards (ACHS) Awards were introduced in 1997 to acknowledge and encourage outstanding quality improvement activities, programs or strategies that have been implemented in healthcare organisations. This year, the awards were held virtually and entries came from across Australia and internationally. MHDA was one of three The annual Australian Council on Healthcare

organisations to receive a highly commended in the non-clinical service delivery category. Clinical Lead for Aboriginal MHDA Michelle Lawrence said the aim of the initiative was to work in partnership with the local Aboriginal community, consumers, staff and stakeholders in order to move towards achieving equality in health, social and emotional well-being and life expectancy for Aboriginal Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples who often find it difficult to access appropriate mainstream health care services. “We ask every time, every person so we are able to link up Aboriginal people with the right services and Aboriginal health liaison officer,” she said. “From our chief executive to our environmental services, everyone is committed.” The Hey You Mob program prompts patients and their

Launch of Ask the Question, Hey you Mob initiative

“It will provide an opportunity for short-term wins and the development of ambitious goals for the future.” The group’s membership spans across a broad range of medical disciplines and includes representatives from Royal North Shore, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai, Mona Vale and Ryde hospitals. The group will meet monthly for a period of six months as it works toward developing a series of goals and strategies with a long-term view to facilitate the ability for more women to progress into medical leadership roles. carers to proudly identify to staff when they attend a healthcare service or hospital. The program includes videos and posters, as well as staff education, community education and is now being embedded into staff orientation. At least five local health districts have adopted Hey You Mob program and NSLHD is working with Northern Beaches Hospital to introduce it there.

Advancing women in medical leadership across NSLHD A new working group has been established to tackle the organisational barriers women face in progressing into more senior positions in the medical workforce across Northern Sydney Local Health District. women to progress into senior leadership roles. The NSLHD Advancing Women in Medical Leadership is chaired by

Chief Executive Deb Willcox. Deb said the working group will facilitate discussions and identify practical solutions towards advancing women into senior medical leadership positions across the district. ”A large focus of the group is on reducing barriers to advancing women in medical leadership positions and to provide equitable access to leadership training programs and pathways,” she said.

Across NSLHD, women represent 55 per cent of intern doctors, yet only 29 per cent of senior staff specialists. NSLHD Board Chair Trevor Danos, who sponsors the group, said these figures reinforce the group’s focus on improving the ‘career pipeline’ for women and encouraging more young



A NSW first in helping the vulnerable NSLHD has become the first in the state to offer sedated COVID-19 vaccinations for adults with disabilities.

The clinic has been in high demand since it started last month with each week’s sessions booked out with people aged from 16 and above. An anaesthetist is present during the 40 minute session and assists the patient, who receives a mild sedation, while they receive their vaccination. realised during the peak of the vaccination campaign this year, when many carers and group home operators were seeking alternatives to the mass vaccination hubs for people with a physical or intellectual disability. NSLHD Virtual Hospital Medical Co-director Dr Paul Collett said many of the patients who experienced a physical or intellectual disability had a fear of needles, or became agitated and were unable to be vaccinated in a regular GP setting. “The feedback from families, doctors and the home operators has been really positive,” he said. The need for such a vaccination clinic was

Medical and nursing staff at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Royal North Shore Hospital

“Some of these patients have never been vaccinated before. “It is really important that these patients are vaccinated [against COVID-19] because they are more vulnerable as some have difficulty mask wearing, they live in group homes so are mixing with people and can’t always remain COVID-safe.” For many of the patients, their disabilities have prevented them from being able to receive childhood and flu vaccinations, but the Virtual Hospital is hoping to change that. Early discussions are in

place in the district to see how the model of care could be expanded to provide immunisations to vulnerable patients. Medical Co-director Dr Elizabeth Swinburn said there had been some good come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is one of the good things to come out of the pandemic is the way we have looked at models of care and how we are providing services has benefit to our patients,” Dr Swinburn said. Patients wishing to use the service need to be referred from a GP or specialist. range of services and assist more than 100 families in need, many with very young children. “I wish to acknowledge the incredible work by the Dalwood Spilstead Service,” he said. “Led by the indefatigable Kerry Gwynne, I thank this unique and successful service and its dedicated and wonderful staff for their amazing work.”

Family support service singled out for praise The team from the Dalwood Spilstead Service at Seaforth has been recognised in NSW Parliament for its invaluable service throughout the pandemic. an internationally renowned program for both parents and children who have experienced disrupted

development or trauma in the early years. It is unlike many services, as it offers support from a single organisation and a single team. Mr Griffin said that while it had been a challenging time for the service during the pandemic, they had still managed to provide the full

The Member for Manly James Griffin addressed parliament, highlighting the support provided by the team for vulnerable families and children over the past 18 months. The NSLHD service delivers



deadly risk of COVID-19 for those with health conditions The largest study of its

around twice as likely to die from the virus. Head of Cardiology at RNSH and Kolling Institute researcher Professor Ravinay Bhindi said the findings have provided valuable data to assist in the treatment of new cases of COVID-19. “The research is providing timely advice for clinicians, helping them identify the patients most likely to deteriorate and therefore in need of a higher level of care,” he said. “These patient outcomes and emerging trends are also underpinning the importance of vaccination. “It’s critical that all patients with heart failure and other chronic conditions are vaccinated against COVID-19. We now have the data to bleeding in trauma and obstetric patients, as well as supporting the blood management of patients with hereditary bleeding disorders. “The ROTEM Sigma System has revolutionised blood management at RNSH, and is currently providing safer individualised care to facilitate optimised bleeding management,” she said. “The new system is fully automated and is simple and easy to use.

kind in Australia has found patients with a history of heart failure are three times more likely to die from COVID-19. Launched last year at the outset of the pandemic, the AUS-COVID trial is investigating those who are most at risk from COVID-19 in Australia. To date, it has assessed hundreds of patients in 21 hospitals across the country. The study confirmed concerns by clinicians that it was not just those with heart failure who were at a greater risk. It found that patients with chronic kidney disease are twice are likely to die from COVID-19, while patients with chronic lung disease such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis are also recently installed the blood management ROTEM Sigma System thanks to a generous donation of $28,457.00 from the RNSH Pink Ladies Committee. The ROTEM Sigma System is a point-of care coagulation testing device. It facilitates rapid detection of coagulopathy and goal- directed therapy for patients actively, or at risk of, critically bleeding. It provides specific targeted blood management and is individualised to each patient. RNSH Patient Blood Management Clinical Nurse Consultant Phillippa Weaver said the new ROTEM Sigma System enables the team to do rapid diagnosis of coagulopathies to optimise patient blood management in surgeries, and in critical

Professor Ravinay Bhindi

show that if you have one of these chronic conditions and you’re not vaccinated when you get COVID-19, you are much more likely to die. “Our research is based on hundreds of cases across Australia, many with tragic outcomes. It’s important that we use this information to inform the care we provide for patients, and address any vaccine hesitancy with real- life experience.” “Any health professional can be easily trained to use it, and it can be accessed 24 hours a day, with a turnaround time of just 10 to 15 minutes. “Once a Sigma ROTEM blood sample is run and analysed, the result can be made accessible to any computer screen in the hospital. “A huge thank you to the Pink Ladies for the donation which has allowed us to provide safer individualised care for our critically bleeding patients.”

RNSH PINK LADIES DONATION TO THEATRES Royal North Shore Hospital’s operating theatres have

(Left to right): Phillippa Weaver, Erin Foulsham, Joy Stephen, Sharon Frazer and Joan Pateman with the ROTEM Sigma System



The NORTH Foundation is launching a new community fundraising initiative for February 2022!

Sign up to start fundraising today!

One in three Australian men

One in four Australian women

750 Australian children

will be diagnosed with cancer

will be diagnosed with cancer

are diagnosed with cancer

before the age of 75

before the age of 75

each year

Our cancer researchers within the Northern Sydney Local Health District are on a mission to

improve diagnosis, treatments and outcomes for patients with cancer.

You can directly support life-changing cancer research by signing up for Costumes for Cancer

and dressing up to host a fundraiser this February for World Cancer Day.

We would love to have a few NSLHD staff teams involved too! Sign up today by scanning the QR

code to register your team and get your costume ready. You can also purchase one of our

specially designed Costumes for Cancer t-shirts, with proceeds supporting the campaign!

If you need any help or you

have any questions, email us on



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