NSLHD News - May 31 2024


Main story international Clinical trials day

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Breast-saving machine for Hornsby Hospital Page 6

District nursing and midwifery award celebrations Page 3


Message from the chief executive

Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM

Dear colleagues,

We recently marked International Clinical Trials Day, I want to express my gratitude to our clinical trial staff for their unwavering dedication and expertise. With over 400 trials currently underway, their efforts play a vital role in advancing medical research and improving patient outcomes across Northern Sydney. The first week of June is HIV Testing Week in NSW, a crucial time when NSW Health shines a spotlight on the significance of HIV testing and urges our communities to prioritise it. In other important news, the NSLHD Influenza Vaccination Program 2024 commenced on Monday, 15 April, and is available for all health care workers (HCWs) in NSLHD. I am delighted to report that over 62 per cent of the NSW Health workforce has been vaccinated. This vaccination is highly recommended to prevent influenza infection within our workforce and amongst our patients. All Category A HCWs are required to have the influenza vaccination by 1 June 2024. More information for healthcare workers is available on the NSW Health website https://bit.ly/3yAcV5L.

During this significant week for our nation, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the importance of National Reconciliation Week, a time for reflection and unity in our journey towards reconciliation with First Nations peoples. This week holds particular significance as we commemorate two pivotal dates in our history: the 1967 referendum and the Mabo decision. These events remind us of the ongoing commitment required to foster respectful relationships and address inequalities within our society. Throughout this week, the NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service is hosting events to celebrate Reconciliation Week. These initiatives serve as reminders of our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and healing. As part of our Reconciliation Week celebrations, we welcomed Aunty Debbie Watson to Bungee Bidgel at Hornsby to provide traditional Nangkari healing clinics for the community. This is an ancient practice that connects the indigenous community to their country and I would like to thank the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service for making this possible. I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the district’s Nursing and Midwifery Awards. These awards celebrate the exceptional contributions of our nursing and midwifery staff, highlighting their dedication to excellence in patient care. I would also like to thank all NSLHD nurses and midwives for the work they do throughout our district.

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



Smiles were aplenty at the awards ceremony at Royal North Shore Hospital

Celebrating annual Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) recently celebrated the district Nursing and

leadership is essential for addressing the challenges and adapting to the changing needs of healthcare delivery. Recognising excellence in our workforce is vital, and these awards allow us to do just that.” The 2024 award winners are: Gradstart of the Year: Tessa Emata, Mona Vale Hospital Enrolled Nurse of the Year: Monique Sheffield, Hornsby Hospital Madeline Hughes, Royal North Shore Hospital Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Award: Simpy Arora, Ryde Hospital EDNM Award for Excellence in Practice: David Boyd, Hornsby Hospital Mary Chiarella Medal: Professor Robyn Gallagher, Northern Sydney Health Precinct Registered Midwife of the Year: Gosha Gersbach, Hornsby Hospital Registered Nurse of the Year:

Midwifery Awards, marking a significant occasion following the International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day. This year’s event was particularly special as it saw the inaugural presentation of the Mary Chiarella Medal for Clinical Nursing and Midwifery Research. The awards ceremony was a tribute to the dedicated work of the 5,165 nurses and midwives throughout the district. The introduction of the Mary Chiarella Medal aims to acknowledge the research achievements of a nurse or midwife within NSLHD. This accolade is intended to increase visibility for leading nursing and midwifery researchers within the district, emphasising clinical research as a vital career pathway. By doing so, it seeks to enhance patient and community outcomes across the district. “Nurses and midwives are hardworking, intelligent professionals who save and change lives every day,” said Anthony Schembri, Chief Executive of NSLHD. “Effective nursing

Northern Sydney Health Precinct Academic Director Professor Robyn Gallagher (right) is presented the honour board as the first winner of the Mary Chiarella Medal with Mary Chiarella AM



Dr Barbara Lucas, Dr Brendan Neuen, Claire Finfer, Professor William Stevenson and Dr Rebecca Saunderson

International Clinical trials day celebrations Around 100 staff attended an international clinical trials day seminar at Royal North Shore Hospital to learn about the NSLHD’s extraordinary research scope, which included talks on cutting-edge gene therapy and physiotherapy for high-risk infants.

Executive Director of Research A/Professor Naomi Hammond said that for decades, clinical trials had led to life-saving treatments and improved health outcomes. She paid tribute to patients, their families and the community at large for participating in trials. She also announced that the NORTH Foundation, along with their philanthropic partners, would be funding 20 places for clinical trials staff to undertake a Macquarie University graduate certificate of clinical trials operations. Several clinicians highlighted some of the trials running in hematology, dermatology, endocrinology, allied health and renal care. Professor William Stevenson discussed the

International Clinical Trials Day recognises the anniversary of the first clinical trial by James Lind in 1747, who investigated the causes of scurvy on board the HMS Salisbury. It also aims to highlight incredible scientific research work produced globally and locally. Peter Rophail, acting Executive Director of Operations said it was important to celebrate and recognise clinical trials staff and showcase the breadth of their work.

Bailey Walker, Naomi Bloul, Simone Dennis, Karen Schuck from the Osteoarthritis Clinical Research Team



Rebecca Stevenson, Anson Vo, Katherine Markoulis and Nanette Dela Cruz Lacson from Renal Research

Linda Pallot, Vascular Surgery Research

case of a 20-year-old man with leukemia who joined a clinical trial and was treated with WU- CART-007, an “off the shelf” immune system cell product that has undergone extensive genetic engineering to fight cancer. In dermatology, Dr Rebecca Saunderson gave insights into the various conditions her department treated and the positive feedback they had received from patients on both commercial and investigator-led clinical trials. Dr Barbara Lucas presented research that investigated parents administering ultra-early intervention physiotherapy to pre-term and infants at high risk of cerebral palsy or motor delays. While it was found to have no clinically worthwhile effects, the parents perceived the

treatment as beneficial to their babies. Meanwhile, Dr Brendan Neuen highlighted the international impact the renal department’s research had had on dialysis and Type 2 diabetes care over the past decade, and their ongoing work, which includes 50 patients enrolled in 20 randomised trials. Dr Matti Gild gave an overview of the many trials running in endocrinology, including those for bone and thyroid cancers. As part of the International Clinical Trials day events, a display was staged in the RNSH foyer involving several research trial teams. The display offered the chance to highlight the diverse range of trials underway and engage with the community.

Clinical trial researchers at RNSH



Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital staff with the new machine

Breast-saving machine for Hornsby Hospital Women will potentially require fewer repeat breast surgeries following the arrival of a new breast-conserving machine at Hornsby Ku- ring-gai Hospital.

time for patients under anaesthesia and provided immediate confirmation in real time to surgeons the cancer had been removed. “The machine helps the surgeon during the operation without the need to wait for margin confirmation,” he said.

Thanks to a generous donation by the Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation and in partnership with surgeon Dr Kylie Snook, women in the Hornsby community diagnosed with breast cancer will benefit from the Hologic Trident Breast Specimen Imaging Machine, used in the hospital’s operating theatres. Clinical Director of Surgery and Anaesthesia Dr Pip Middleton said the equipment reduced A specialist team from RNSH’s Intensive Care Unit will launch a clinical trial to determine if giving antibiotics to those with a severe brain injury early in their treatment will have a dramatic impact on their recovery. The large-scale trial will be led by Senior Intensive Care Specialist A/Professor Anthony Delaney after a $6.3 million research grant from the Federal Government. The trial will also be driven by the district’s new Executive Director of Research A/ Professor Naomi Hammond, and ICU specialists Professor Simon Finfer, Dr Chris Andersen and Neuroscience Intensive Care Research Nurse and PhD candidate Emily Fitzgerald. A/Professor Delaney has welcomed the significant funding for this research. “Patients with a severe acute brain injury who require support for their breathing in intensive care are at a high risk of developing a lung infection, and those who do develop an infection have a higher risk of dying and may not recover as well as they could from the brain injury,” he said. “Our trial will determine if giving antibiotics early in the course of ICU treatment can prevent these infections, increase the chance

“The machine supports point of care testing with instant verification of results, resulting in reduced procedure time and improved workflow.” The new equipment is used to perform breast-conserving surgeries or stereotactic breast biopsies. New funding for research into early care for brain injuries

of surviving and improve the recovery of brain function.” More than 3,000 people across 50 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand are expected to be recruited to the clinical trial. Anthony said the benefits of this new treatment approach could be life changing. “For patients who survive a severe acute brain injury, limiting further brain damage by preventing infection may avoid the need for decades of care and improve quality of life.” For more details about the clinical trial, check out Channel 9’s news feature via this link: https://bit.ly/4bJUJWc.

Dr Chris Andersen, A/Professor Anthony Delaney, Emily Fitzgerald and A/Professor Naomi Hammond



’Greening’ respiratory health With over 20 million inhalers being prescribed in Australia per year and roughly one in nine Australians having asthma, respiratory inhalers are a required medical device to control disease and provide symptom relief. With so many Australians relying on inhalers, a group of clinical Net Zero Leads from Royal North Shore Hospital have been working on a number of projects to mitigate the environmental impact of some of these inhalers. RNSH Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Physician, and one of NSLHD’s Net Zero Leads, Sophie Timmins says the single pressurised meter dose inhalers (PMDI) are a major culprit in respiratory medicine’s carbon footprint. “Dry powder inhalers and soft mist inhalers don’t use propellant gas and have far less carbon footprint; 25 times less per dose,” she said. Sophie has teamed up with Respiratory and Sleep Physician Katrina Tonga and Senior Clinical Pharmacist Mellissa Batger who have also worked as NSLHD Net Zero Leads. Sophie said the group have been busy working across three different projects to help the district’s planetary health efforts within respiratory health. “We have three projects that are ongoing to help reduce the district’s carbon footprint in this space,” she said. “The first is an educational campaign for district staff and general practitioners though the Primary Health Network (PHN) where we have been holding workshops and seminars.” The education sessions touched on all-round care when it comes to inhalers, such as making the correct diagnosis, choosing the right device, selecting the right drug, and ensuring the right disposal of inhalers. Sophie said the group’s second project has been an inhaler collection pilot at RNSH across various departments, which has led to a 12 month inhaler and blister pack recycling program to commence this year at the hospital. “An audit of salbutamol prescription helped us identify high use wards and over eight weeks we collected 122 inhalers and measured that there were remaining doses in many of the inhalers,” she said. “The new recycling program will see inpatient wards at RNSH having a designated bin for empty blister packs and inhalers, which if successful may be rolled out to other hospitals in the district.”

The third and final project the Net Zero Leads are working on in 2024 is the development of an asthma pathway for the RNSH emergency department. “The aim of the asthma pathway will be to provide guidance to medical staff on appropriate inhaler dosing and guidance on discharge medications and appropriate follow up,” Sophie said. “We are very excited to have made so much progress and look forward to seeing the outcomes of these projects.” The team were also recognised at the 2023 NSLHD Exceptional People Awards, being named team winners of the Sustainability and Planetary Health award.

Senior Clinical Pharmacist Mellissa Batger, Respiratory and Sleep Physician Katrina Tonga and RNSH Respiratory and Sleep Physician Sophie Timmins



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• Look at our exciting metro-rural exchange opportunities • Continuous professional development • Check out the $8K subsidy available • Up to $20k extra to work in rural or regional settings • Apply from 18 June 2024 – 1 July 2024 to start in 2025.

Scan the QR code or visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/gradstart to learn more.

May 2024 © NSW Health. SHPN (NAMO) 240307-1.

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