NSLHD News 21 July 2023

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


Main story NSW Governor visits AYAH AYAH patients, their families, carers and staff were visited by the Honourable Margaret Beazley. Page 5 Short blurb Read more on Page x

Mona Vale’s Palliative Care Unit treats 600th patient Page 5



Message from the chief executive A/Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM

It gives me great pleasure to introduce myself to you in my first newsletter column as the new Chief Executive of Northern Sydney Local Health District. For those of you I have not met and who do not know me this year marks my 30th anniversary of working in the public health system in NSW. Most recently I have been Chief Executive of the St Vincent’s Speciality Health Network. Before that I was the General Manager of Liverpool Hospital and have held general manager roles in both Bankstown and Fairfield hospitals. I was also the Area Clinical Director, Allied Health and Clinical Support, in the former Sydney South West Area Health Service. I am incredibly pleased to join the district and I very much look forward to playing my part in ensuring we continue to provide high-quality healthcare to our community. On my first day I visited the social work department at Royal North Shore Hospital which is where I had my first management and leadership role as a senior social worker some 25 years ago. It was a very special moment for me as I have such incredible memories of my time working at the hospital all those years ago and it was a privilege to meet the RNSH social work team who continue to carry out such important work. (see page 3) I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet with multiple other teams throughout this week which I have really enjoyed.

impressive new facilities at Hornsby Ku- ring-gai Hospital and meet so many of our wonderful staff members. While at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital I attended my first NSLHD Board meeting and it was wonderful to meet members of the Board who bring such a rich variety of skills, expertise and knowledge to help steer the strategic direction of the district. It was also a privilege to welcome NSW Governor Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC to the Manly Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice. Whilst it was only my fourth day in the role, it was an honour for me to be able to escort the NSW Governor on the tour of this great facility and made me feel so incredibly proud to work for a district that provides such a wonderful service for patients and their families. I would like to thank Lee Gregory for his hard work and leadership as Interim Chief Executive over these past months and acknowledge our leadership teams who have been supporting Lee in his role during this time. And I extend a huge thank you to everyone across the district who has given me such a warm welcome. It’s been a fantastic first week for me and I look forward to working and meeting you throughout my time at the district.

Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District

I was able to visit and tour the



CE Anthony Schembri with the RNSH social work department

Social workers greeted on Chief Executive’s first day NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri wasted no time in hitting the ground running in his new role, starting his first day with a visit to where his career in health management started – the RNSH social work department. Anthony has an extensive background in social work and joined the department in 1998 as a manager of a team of three social workers. It was the first promotion Anthony had received in health and he still has very fond memories of his time at RNSH. “Social workers play a big role in helping our patients, their families and carers at a very vulnerable time,” he said. “Whilst I’ve gone on to work in different areas of health throughout my career, I will always be a proud social worker first and foremost.” Annual Muru Dali Gili Gili Employee Network Day The fourth Annual NSLHD Muru Dali Gili Gili Employee Network Day was recently held at Northern Sydney Education and Conference Centre (NSECC) at Macquarie Hospital. The annual event supports NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff and was established by the NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service in 2019. The day is focused on NSLHD Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy 2023 –

2027 – Strategic Objectives of the Muru Dali Gili Gili Employee Network, including career and professional development, cultural understanding, pathways, networking and cultural workshops. Staff from across the district, as well as people outside of the organisation, attended the event to offer advice and talk about their journeys and experiences in government and non-government agencies. Thirty participants from across the district attended the networking day, which included a visit from former NSLHD Interim Chief Executive Lee Gregory.

Network members from across the district attended the employee network day.



A SUPERTEE-RIFIC DONATION TO SICK KIDS Children who find themselves in hospital now

through the hardest period of their lives,” she said. “Supertees are MRI safe and enable health professionals to provide care with these safe garments with room for tubes, lines, drips and drains.”

have specially designed Marvel character medical clothing to make their stay a little lighter thanks to a Supertee-rific donation. Supertee is a charity that delivers superhero inspired clothes to kids in hospital. Supertee’s focus is “Strength through

Imagination” with the garments aiming to assist sick kids unleash their inner superhero status and be brave whilst undergoing treatment or unwell. The charity recently donated shirts to Royal North Shore and Hornsby hospitals’ children’s wards. The shirts are specially designed to not impede the delivery of clinical care and have easy access sections built in via plastic press studs and ‘tear away’ sections making for ease of changing and allow monitoring equipment to remain in place whilst not being restrictive. Bitsize Cookie Company and Brother both generously funded the Supertee Hero packs. Acting Nurse Unit Manager of the child and adolescent unit at Royal North Shore Hospital Emma Windsor said the Supertees play a big role in uplifting children. “Supertees have been amazing for the sick children in our care as they make children feel like superheros at a time when they can be going

The team from Brother Australia with staff from the Child and Adolescent Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital

Technology supporting back pain anywhere, any time If you have low back pain and would like to be part of an innovative study, there’s an opportunity to join an exciting research project. A further 25 recruits are needed for the study which is using text messages to support recovery.

“Text messaging is an easy, accessible and affordable intervention that can empower those with back pain to better manage their own symptoms. “It can be used to support people anywhere, at any time of the day. “Text messaging initiatives have been shown to help people with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and we are working to determine if this approach can also be an effective tool for those with chronic back pain.” If you would like to know more go to bit.ly/ TEXT4myBACK

Study lead Professor Manuela Ferreira said broader options for care are needed given the large number of people who experience the condition. “People with low back pain need affordable interventions to help them manage their condition, and this health program provides practical, evidenced-based strategies,” she said.



Celebrations were in full swing to mark the special occasion

Mona Vale’s Palliative Care Unit treats 600th patient Mona Vale Hospital’s palliative care unit recently passed another impressive milestone, admitting and treating its 600th patient since opening in 2021.

Palliative Care staff specialist Dr Peter Roach said it was warming for the staff to receive regular positive feedback. He said that the unit is also now accredited for Advanced Training in Palliative Medicine with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and currently has two advanced trainees working in the unit. Mona Vale Hospital’s A/General Manager Mathivanan Sakthivel commended the service for reaching the important milestone of treating 600 patients. “The service does a fantastic job for patients, their families and carers,” he said. “The unit keeps making inroads in palliative care and is such a great asset to the Mona Vale and Northern Beaches community,” “I’d like to congratulate the entire unit reaching this fantastic milestone and I look forward to seeing the unit continue to treat patients to such a high standard.”

The unit has a multidisciplinary team, which cares for the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of patients with life-limiting illness. The unit is no stranger to making progress and reaching milestones. The unit benchmarks itself against other palliative care units and has integrated the Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC) into its practice to help benchmark the service against other palliative care services, and has maintained a very strong collaboration with the Northern Beaches Community Palliative Care Service and the palliative care inreach Team at Northern Beaches Hospital. The unit has also established as a supporter of corneal donation and the generosity of patients and families in giving this gift has been felt by those who work within the unit. NSW Governor visits AYAH The Manly Adolescent Young Adult and Youth Hospice (AYAH) welcomed the NSW Governor Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC for a tour and to meet with patients, their families and carers and staff members. NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri thanked the Governor for visiting and said the visit meant a great deal to patients. “It has been an absolute privilege to welcome the Honourable Margaret Beazley to the AYAH,” he said. “As a district, we are incredibly proud that we are able to offer such a unique and well- rounded service to patients,”

“I’d like to thank Her Excellency for taking the time to visit – our patients enjoyed every minute.”

The Honourable Margaret Beazley shared refreshments with patients, their famililies, carers and staff



Grant provides a new reality for patients Round two of the NSLHD and NORTH Foundation Grants Program is now open, exclusively for NSLHD staff. This grants program is designed to support innovative projects which provide tangible benefits for staff, patients, and the broader community. A recent beneficiary of the program was the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital paediatric ward, who were able to purchase virtual reality goggles to help young patients. Used as a diversional therapy when undergoing painful procedures such as

families, and staff have the opportunity submit applications again this year. Applications will be be reviewed by the NORTH Foundation and the funding advisory committee, with grants awarded to the strongest submissions. Applications close on Sunday 30 July at 11.59 pm. To apply, visit the NORTH Foundation Grants Page at https://northfoundation.org.au/grants- program/.

catheter insertion and removal, blood tests and injections, the goggles help to take children to another world. Children can select from a series of short- form virtual reality adventures from colourful underwater scenes where you can follow giant whale sharks to world travel with gondola rides in Venice and African wildlife safaris with elephants and lions. Nine-year-old patient Olivia has wasted no time in making full use of the goggles, and has been able to see lots of animals through virtual reality. “My favourites are the hammerhead shark and the lions. I just watched one on Ireland which was really cool, and I saw lots of animals, sheep and even a sheep dog!” said Olivia. The response from parents has also been extremely positive. Olivia’s mum Isobel said the goggles also worked well as a reward for Olivia for pushing herself outside of her comfort zone. “With Olivia being in hospital for extended periods, it’s good to have some fun things to pass the time as the days can be long,” said Isobel. Grants can go a long way into making a huge difference in the lives of patients and their

Hornsby Hospital patient Olivia is delighted with the new virtual reality goggles

Hornsby Hospital Mona Vale HOSPITAL nslhd mhda


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Australian researchers positioned to support space missions The expertise across Australia’s space

“We are world leaders in rural and remote healthcare, with experience delivering care in some of the most extreme and isolated environments on earth,” he said. “The Australian Antarctic Program for example has developed specialised training and technology to enable a generalist doctor to provide medical, surgical, anaesthetic and dental care to an isolated team. “Many of the challenges faced in these settings will be experienced by astronauts and space agencies as human spaceflight extends further into space.” Jim said the Australian space medicine community is keen to see the medical progress as a result of the upcoming space explorations. “It’s anticipated that some of the lessons learned in space will deliver benefits back on earth and help to drive improvements in health outcomes. “For instance, the new knowledge around the deconditioning of astronauts in space could help doctors managing patients with deconditioning after long periods in hospital.”

medicine community was showcased during a special event co-ordinated by the Kolling Institute and the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine. Staged over two days, the colloquium involved national and international experts including representatives from the Australian Space Agency, the CSIRO and Boeing. Presenters discussed the specific medical, dental, and psychological needs of astronauts, Australian-designed space suits and opportunities for our space community in NASA’s exploration of the moon and ultimately Mars. Kolling Academic Director Professor Jim Elliott said Australia’s involvement in the Apollo Moon landings is well documented, but perhaps what is not well known is the depth of experience in Australia’s contemporary space industry. “We have a tremendous depth of medical, technological and research expertise in this field,” he said. “Australian clinicians and researchers have been collaborating with international space

agencies for years, with some of our research focusing on clinical advances for astronauts. “Our technological sector is also well placed to offer specialised support, with a track record of innovation. “Australian experience has driven advances in radiation protection, wearable sensors and compression suits worn by astronauts to limit the musculoskeletal effects of microgravity.” Dr John Cherry, a director from the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine said Australia is in a strong position to support long duration human spaceflight missions.

Professors Jim Elliott, Gordon Cable, Jule Hides and Dr John Cherry

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.



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