A Year in Review - 2023

Northern Sydney Local Health District

Northern Sydney Local Health District A YEAR IN REVIEW 2023

Message from the Chief Executive

I was privileged to join the Northern Sydney Local Health District midway through this year, and was warmly welcomed by staff, the NSLHD Board and our partners. It has been a year filled with extraordinary accomplishments and remarkable milestones across our district. We have witnessed outstanding achievements in patient care, innovations and significant strides in our capital infrastructure program. During the 2022/23 financial year, more than 33,000 surgical procedures were performed across the district, thanks to the tireless efforts of our staff. Our emergency departments saw nearly 230,000 presentations, we provided care to more than 132,000 patients admitted to our hospitals and more than 4000 babies were delivered in our maternity services. Early this year we welcomed our first patients to the $19.5 million Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice (AYAH), which provides a service for 15 to 24-year- old patients with life-limiting illness, together with their families and carers. The facility provides a contemporary home-away-from-home, offering respite care, symptom management and end-of-life care. I would like to thank Mrs Kay Van Norton who has made significant donations to the AYAH which have helped make this wonderful facility possible. The ongoing $425 million transformation of Ryde Hospital continued its journey, with the early signs of demolition marking progress. Meanwhile, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital embarked on a new chapter, offering renal dialysis and chemotherapy for the first time, thanks to the completion of the $321 million redevelopment, making healthcare more accessible and convenient for our community. The NSLHD inpatient drug and alcohol services moved to a new location in a freshly renovated area at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH), which has significantly improved the inpatient experience for people experiencing drug and alcohol problems. We also took an important step in planning for the future with the development of the 2023 RNSH Campus Master Plan, designed to meet the future healthcare needs of our community. It was an honour to collaborate with clinicians, health planners, architects, and representatives from across the hospital and district to contribute to this visionary plan. The NSLHD Long COVID Service was established to assist GPs to manage patients in the community, as we continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with the Northern Sydney Primary Health Network, the district also established a virtual care centre for GPs to seek advice on patients with COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

Within our district, we are fortunate to have exceptional individuals who consistently go above and beyond. It was heartening to witness many of our outstanding staff members rightfully recognised in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours and Australia Day Honours lists. Our appreciation of staff was also highlighted by the district’s Exceptional People Awards, where more than 65 staff members were nominated for their outstanding contributions. The spirit of innovation and creativity also thrived at this year’s Quality and Improvement Awards, which showcased our unwavering commitment to excellence. Impressively, the district had four finalists named for the 2023 NSW Health Awards, with RNSH’s Multidisciplinary Concussion Service named a joint winner in the Patient Safety First Award. The clinic is providing an Australian-first service, working with the community to provide vital education about concussions. It also runs a specialised multidisciplinary clinic to help patients with post-concussion symptoms return safely to school, study, work and sport. We were also delighted to see the concussion service named as a finalist in this year’s NSW Premier’s Awards, which celebrate excellence in the delivery of public services to the NSW community. Professor Anthony Gill AM, a world-renowned pathologist and researcher, and senior staff specialist in Anatomical Pathology at RNSH, was awarded Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year at the NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research. The impact of research conducted across our district saw tangible improvements in patient care, underpinned by increased activity, funding, and progress. Our researchers made significant strides in areas including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, pain management, and musculoskeletal conditions, solidifying their influence on the national and international stage. During my time at NSLHD I have been particularly impressed with the progress this district has made in the areas of planetary health and sustainability, as well as diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. I am deeply committed to these important areas of our work and very much look forward to being part of their progress. To every member of staff across our district, I extend my heartfelt gratitude for the exceptional care you provide to our patients, their families, and one another. I am deeply honoured to be a part of this exceptional district, and I eagerly anticipate the remarkable achievements we will continue to see to benefit our patients, their families, and the entire community. Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Schembri AM Chief Executive, Northern Sydney Local Health District


NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Message from the Board Chair

It has been another remarkable year at Northern Sydney Local Health District, with many noteworthy achievements. Under the leadership of our new chief executive Adjunct Professor Anthony Schembri AM, we have continued to be one of the highest-performing local health districts in NSW, providing high-quality, safe healthcare to the community. Solid progress has been made in staff and community engagement, planetary health and sustainability, and diversity and inclusion. Diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging have remained at the forefront of our priorities and the year ends with much to celebrate. We launched the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy 2023-2027, which outlines the objectives and initiatives planned to help us deliver on our vision to create a workforce that reflects the community we serve, where people from all walks of life are represented, respected and feel that they belong. The district held its first LGBTIQ+ Health Symposium which was a great success. Attendees heard from industry leaders about their experiences both as staff and as health consumers. These insights will guide our district as we strive to meet the objectives outlined in the NSW Health LGBTIQ+ Strategy 2022-2027 and foster a more inclusive environment. Additionally, our commitment to gender equity was showcased at the Advancing Women in Medical Leadership Conference. This event, attended by close to 200 colleagues, provided a platform for our female medical leaders to network and gain inspiration from a line-up of exceptional internal and external speakers who have managed to break barriers and advance their careers. The conference exemplifies our ongoing efforts to create a diverse and equitable workplace where every individual can flourish and feel they belong. As a health service with a large carbon footprint, we have acknowledged the district has a responsibility to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to embrace environmental stewardship, while continuing to provide high-quality healthcare. Planetary health and environmental sustainability are key areas of focus and the district is the first local health district in NSW to comprehensively measure its baseline carbon footprint and commit to a net zero roadmap. For the carbon emissions the district controls directly, a commitment has been made to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2035, including a 70-80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. For the emissions NSLHD does not control directly but can influence, the aim is to reach net zero by 2050, with a 50 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2035. We are really pleased to see the progress made in implementing the strategies outlined in the NSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2021-2023, with work

currently underway to develop a new framework for the next three years. Our Australian-first ‘Net Zero Leads Program’ which started in November last year has continued, with 12 clinicians now supported to lead projects to reduce emissions in clinical care. These projects include reducing single-use plastics in theatres, nitrous oxide and pharmaceutical waste, plus many others. There are many other projects happening on the ground and I would like to thank all our staff who contribute to important work and continue to make valuable suggestions to reduce our district’s carbon footprint. In particular, we should call out the sustainability committees at Royal North Shore, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai, Mona Vale, and Ryde hospitals and primary and community health (PACH). Together with the Net Zero Clinical Group, these teams have spearheaded local planetary health initiatives, delivering substantial environmental, health, and financial benefits to the district. Their contributions are invaluable, and we commend them for their tireless work. It was wonderful to see the completion of some of our capital works projects including the $321 million redevelopment of Hornsby Hospital and the $19.5 million Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice (AYAH). It is also very exciting to see work starting on the initial stages of the $425 million redevelopment of Ryde Hospital. As we reflect on this year, on behalf of the Board, I want to express our deepest appreciation to our incredible staff. Your unwavering commitment and dedication to our community and the provision of high-quality care to our patients, consumers, and their families are truly exceptional. Each one of you plays a pivotal role in shaping our district and in enhancing its state-wide, national and international reputation. Our staff are our greatest asset and it is so important they are recognised. I was delighted to attend the district Exceptional People Awards this year and see staff receive their awards. And to have four finalists in the NSW Health Awards, with one winner and one highly commended, was simply outstanding. We are also incredibly grateful to our fundraising partners who have worked hard to raise funds and many philanthropists who have generously donated to our hospitals and services. I would also like to thank our many volunteers, who have also played an essential role, generously giving their time and skills to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our patients, their families, visitors, and our staff. Looking ahead to 2024, we are filled with excitement as we anticipate even more successes. There are already important initiatives and projects in progress, and I am confident that together, we will continue to provide the very best healthcare to our community. Trevor Danos AM Board Chair, Northern Sydney Local Health District

NSLHD 2023 Year in Review


Northern Sydney Local Health District has continued to set the groundwork and progress sustainability efforts across all hospitals and services. The district reached a significant milestone in 2023, with the completion of the baseline carbon footprinting which involved determining the amount of carbon dioxide the district emits and from where. does not directly control but can potentially influence (referred to as scope 3), NSLHD aims to reach net zero by 2050, with a 50 per cent reduction by 2035. This will involve ongoing work with the district’s partners and suppliers address the key hotspots. “We are working on a dashboard so we can track our progress to net zero and translate this into emissions reductions and cost savings.” NSLHD continued planetary health efforts

to influence and improve the environmental sustainability of NSLHD’s supply chain. NSLHD Planetary Health Manager Nicola Groskops, who has been working in the key role since 2022, said having the baseline carbon footprinting completed has given the district a foundation to improve on. “It’s been great to be able to see the results of the footprinting and what the hotspots are for us as a district and what we need to do to address these,” she said. “Whilst the journey to net zero is a complex one, we are excited that we have a starting point, and we are already well underway to

Nicola said the district is also developing the new NSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2024-2027, which will provide a roadmap for the journey to net zero. “On the back of the inaugural NSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2021-2023, the new framework will leverage what we now know about our district’s carbon footprint and set clear and actionable strategies for working together towards net zero,” she said. Staff members, patients and community members will have the opportunity to have their say and provide feedback on a draft of the new framework.

The process, which was completed by sustainability experts Arup, has given the district insight into what its emissions are and what can be improved on. The footprinting also allowed the district to model its path to net zero carbon emissions and further define its net zero commitment. For the emissions the district directly controls (referred to as scopes 1 and 2), NSLHD aims to reach net zero by 2035, with a 70-80 per cent reduction by 2030. This includes reducing emissions from electricity, fleet vehicles, natural gas and medical gases. For the emissions the district


NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Breastscreen clinic opened in Ryde Women in the community of Ryde can now access life-saving breast cancer screening services closer to home, with a new BreastScreen NSW service officially opened in North Ryde.

Director of BreastScreen NSW in Northern Sydney Meredith Kay said the new clinic will make it easier for local women to attend their recommended two-yearly screening. “Detecting breast cancer early increases your chance of survival while reducing the likelihood of invasive treatment, such as mastectomy or chemotherapy,” Meredith said. “Around 90 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history and this is why breast cancer screening is so important for all eligible women. “A screening mammogram is one of the most important things women

in this age group (50-74 years) can do for their health.” Minister for Health Ryan Park said recent planning data revealed the Ryde Local Government Area is among the highest projected growth areas in NSW for women aged 50-74 years. “It is anticipated the new permanent site on Cox’s Road will screen approximately 5000 women every year,” he said. “Previously, women living in the area had to travel to Northern Sydney or further away for a mammogram or rely on the mobile

improve access for the more than 4800 women who live within the Ryde catchment. “Having a permanent presence in North Ryde means appointments can be scheduled five days a week, virtually all year round.” The new clinic opened with one mammography room with capacity to expand to two rooms to meet future growth and demand. BreastScreen NSW services are for eligible women with no breast cancer symptoms. Any woman experiencing breast changes, like a lump, should see their GP without delay.

van which regularly visited. “This permanent clinic will

(Left to right) Minister for Women Jodie Harrison, NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri, NSLHD Director Primary and Community Health Kim Field, Director of BreastScreen NSW Northern Sydney Central Coast Meredith Kay, Professor Tracey O’Brien - NSW Chief Cancer Officer and NSW Minister for Health Ryan Park

NSLHD 2023 Year in Review


Researchers saving those with silent heart disease

For many years we’ve understood that heart disease is linked to lifestyle and underlying health issues, but our researchers at the Kolling Institute have pioneered a new approach to identify and treat those with the disease without the traditional risk factors. In Australia, a heart attack occurs every nine minutes, often with a tragic outcome or lifelong consequences. Many of these attacks are associated with smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, where arteries have been damaged and obstructed by plaque. But our researchers have turned their focus to a group of patients who have developed silent cardiovascular disease, without any warning signs. This group accounts for an alarming 25 per cent of people who have had a heart attack without any of the standard modifiable risk factors. Internationally recognised researcher and Royal North Shore Hospital interventional cardiologist Professor Gemma Figtree said there has been an increase in patients like this over the past 10 years, and worryingly, many fared poorly after initial hospital treatment. “A greater number of them died within 30 days of the initial heart attack compared to patients with traditional risk factors, and women

Professor Gemma Figtree with Dr Steve Vernon from the Kolling Institute

the risk factor profile, it would allow intervention with effective treatments that stabilise plaque and dramatically reduce the number of heart attacks. Gemma said this will be a crucial step forward, revolutionising heart attack prevention. “Most current medications for heart disease target the known risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, however we are working to develop medications which could benefit all those at risk of heart disease, not just those with the obvious risk factors,” she said. “It’s important that this cohort, which has been largely invisible until now, is given the focus they need. “We know the development of new drugs can take many years, but we’ve seen with the success of the COVID-19 vaccines that progress can be made in a short period of time, and we’re convinced that by bringing together the best minds from across the globe, we’re in a strong position to effect change and reduce preventable deaths.”

were disproportionately affected,” she said. “This group has, until now, not been the focus of research or disease management, but we are working to gain a better understanding of how the disease develops in these patients and how we can capture them early and save lives. “It’s estimated 1.3 million people worldwide die each year due to heart attacks without the usual risk factors. These patients have no current way of accessing effective treatment for their underlying plaque as it silently develops.” In response to these challenges, Gemma is spearheading a new approach and working with physicians, scientists and industry experts to support this group. Researchers are developing a series of blood tests to identify biomarkers of the underlying disease in its silent phase, and confirm whether they point to potential new therapeutic targets. They say if a marker could identify even 50 per cent of people with plaque independently of


NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Celebrating and inspiring women in medical leadership NSLHD played host to a powerhouse of women at the Advancing Women in Medical Leadership Conference.

Women from health and other sectors attended the inaugural event which celebrated the achievements of women and provided insight into how some of our country’s most successful female leaders have navigated their careers. Keynote speaker was NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant AO who has been working in NSW Health since 1991 in the areas of virus infections, communicable disease prevention and Indigenous health. Well-known across New South Wales for delivering the 11am COVID-19 updates during the pandemic, Kerry delivered a candid insight into her career.

She was joined by other guest speakers including Dr Marlene Kanga AO, Non-Executive Director, Endeavour Energy; Professor Emma Johnson AO, Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, University of Sydney; Associate Professor Nada Hamad, Haematologist, Co-Chair Women in Medicine St Vincent’s Health Australia; Professor Clara Chow, Professor of Medicine, Academic Director Westmead Applied Research Centre, University of Sydney and Deb Willcox AM, NSW Health Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Patient Experience. Former Acting Chief Executive Lee Gregory said the district wanted to build on the momentum

for change and was working with senior medical leaders to support more women advancing in their medical careers. “This is driven by women who are senior leaders in their field, joined by management to bring ideas to life and importantly make some real change,” he said. “Having a day like the conference is important because it not only brings many people together to share ideas, but it inspires us all.” NSLHD has made it a priority to support senior women in medicine to advance their careers, with fewer than 50 per cent of senior medical leadership positions held by women.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Patient Experience Deb Wil l cox AM, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant AO, Dr Matti Gild and Associate Professor Sarah Glastras

NSLHD 2023 Year in Review


The Youth Advisory Board’s first meeting with NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri and NSLHD Director of People and Culture Paula Williscroft

Youth board points in new direction

The Northern Sydney Local Health District established a new Youth Advisory Board (YAB) as a new platform to engage and consult with young leaders.

The 20 young leaders on the YAB are aged between 18 and 35, come from a diverse range of clinical and non-clinical roles, and include an anesthetics registrar, a speech pathologist, a social wellbeing manager and a nurse. The YAB held its first monthly meeting with NSLHD Chief Executive Anthony Schembri and NSLHD Director of People and Culture Paula Williscroft in September. The get-together was an opportunity for the group to introduce themselves and voice their interests and priorities during a discussion on the topic ‘What I would change about NSLHD?’.

There was a spectrum of views raised during this discussion, with shared areas of interest including improving staff development opportunities at NSLHD, workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing and planetary health. James Boland, co-chair of the YAB and NSLHD Graduate Health Management Trainee, said the initiative would give a voice to younger staff members who often feel disengaged from consultation and decision-making processes in the district. “It’s important that we consider the perspectives of all generations, including the young

when guiding the direction of our district,” he said. “By doing this, we are responding to the needs and wants of all patients and consumers. I also really hope that the YAB can act as an ‘incubator’ for the future leaders of our district.” James said he found the YAB a valuable chance to learn from the different experiences and perspectives of YAB members across the district. “It is a great privilege to be involved in this initiative and I am keen to see how the YAB will develop and make a real difference in the district,” he said.


NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice welcomed first patient

Jamieson with her mum at the new AYAH facility.

The Australian-first Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice (AYAH) in Manly welcomed its first patient in February. Nineteen-year-old Jamieson Leeson spent two weeks at the new waterfront AYAH where she received respite care.

Jamieson, who is from Dunedoo in central western NSW, leads a busy life as a Paralympian boccia player and Bachelor of Economics student at the University of New South Wales. “It has been great having the time to relax and do a puzzle, watch a movie or spend time with my mum

Jamieson graduated from Bear Cottage in February 2022 and remarked how important the care and respite services provided at the AYAH were. “It has been a bit tough not having any respite for a year so it’s really exciting to be here,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed being here and meeting all the staff and settling into the new place, and Mum gets a break too.”

and family,” Jamieson said. “It’s really cool here – I love the beach and warm summer air.”

NSLHD 2023 Year in Review


Australian researchers positioned to support space missions

Professors Jim Elliott, Gordon Cable, Julie Hides and Dr John Cherry discussed space medicine research

The expertise across Australia’s space medicine community was showcased during a special event coordinated by the Kolling Institute and the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine. Staged over two days, the

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

“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.”

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- 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 designed space suits and opportunities for our space

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. “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.

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy launched

Staff came together to celebrate the launch of the district’s new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Strategy 2023-2027.

NSLHD offers all staff an opportunity to participate in any of the five employee

The new strategy comes after the conclusion of the district’s first Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy which was in place from 2020 to 2022. A key shift has been to incorporate a focus on equity in the new program of work. Former Acting Chief Executive Lee Gregory said the strategy shows the district’s strong commitment to making NSLHD a great place to work for all, regardless of personal background or life experience. “The launch was a special opportunity to hear about the

initiatives planned to help us deliver on our vision to create a workforce that reflects the community we serve, where people from all walks of life are represented, respected and feel that they belong,” Lee said. “It was wonderful to have representatives from our five employee networks speaking at the launch event and sharing moving personal experiences of inclusion at NSLHD. It was also great to hear about the work our people have been doing to promote greater inclusion for all and what they want to achieve over the five-year DEIB Strategy period.”

networks, including: 1 Muru Dali Gili Gili Network 2 Cultural and

Linguistically Diverse Employee Network 3 The Employee Resource Network on Disability 4 The Pride+ Employee Network and 5 Embrace Gender Equity Employee Network Get involved and find out more about the employee networks here: https://bit.ly/ NSLHD-employee-networks.

objectives of the new DEIB Strategy and some of the

Read the new DEIB Strategy here: https://bit.ly/DEIB-Strategy.

Members from our employee networks launch our DEIB strategy

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Healing hearts and minds at Macquarie

Director of Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Andrea Taylor, Clinical Lead - Aboriginal MHDA Michelle Lawrence and Macquarie Hospital site manager Elisabeth Manning

A traditional healing garden provided comfort for mental health consumers and visitors to Macquarie Hospital, while honouring the connection between land and the Indigenous custodians.

Situated on the lands of the Burramattagal people of the Darug nation, the garden—which has traditional medicinal plants— pays tribute to their wisdom and traditional healing practices. The traditional healing garden not only serves as a place of cultural significance and healing for the First Nations community but also offers a peaceful and reflective space for the hospital staff and consumers. Mental Health Drug and Alcohol

Aboriginal Clinical Lead Michelle Lawrence said the traditional healing garden was as a vital resource for the First Nations Recovery Group within the hospital’s community. “By incorporating traditional medicinal plants, the garden becomes a living symbol of healing, both physically and spiritually,” she said. “The First Nations Recovery Group’s consumers can actively engage with the plants, learning

about their historical uses and medicinal properties, which have been passed down through generations.

“This empowering experience not only

enables individuals to reconnect with their cultural heritage but also helps promote a sense of belonging and pride in their Indigenous identity.”

12 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

NSLHD launched long COVID service NSLHD continues to

respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with the launch of the Northern Sydney Long COVID Service (NSLCS). The service provides coordinated care for patients who have been experiencing complex long COVID symptoms for at least three months since their initial COVID-19 infection with no other explanation, and who need specialist medical, nursing and allied health support. NSLCS is a multidisciplinary service that includes allied health, nursing and medical staff who can provide support virtually through telehealth. The service aims to provide specialised advice and support so that patients can comfortably manage their symptoms in the community with their GP. Individuals who live in the NSLHD catchment area with suspected or confirmed long COVID can be referred to the service by a GP or medical specialist. Individuals cannot self-refer. Former Acting Chief Executive Lee Gregory said the service is a big step forward for the district’s long-term coronavirus response. “NSLHD’s coronavirus response has been second to none over the past few years,” he said. “The addition of the NSLCS is another example of our commitment to helping the community navigate the complexity of the coronavirus. “Thank you to everyone involved in getting this important service up and running, our community is going to benefit significantly from it.”

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Clinic helped Maddy navigate her concussion journey Twenty-two-year-old

“They all offered me a range of solutions and I’m incredibly grateful for all their support.” “The clinic showed me a method that would fit into my daily routine which helped me recover much faster and return to normal much quicker.” Reflecting on her journey, Maddy encouraged anyone who may be experiencing ongoing concussion symptoms to seek help and not

suffer alone. “I would advise anyone suffering post-concussion symptoms to visit your doctor as soon as possible,” she said. Impressively, the clinic was named a joint winner in the Patient Safety First Award at the 2023 NSW Health Awards. It was also named a finalist in this year’s NSW Premier’s Awards, which celebrate excellence in the delivery of public services to the NSW community.

student Maddy Corbett had always been athletic and played multiple sports over the course of her life. In 2022, Maddy was confronted with a series of concussions sustained while playing AFL and rugby, which found her experiencing ongoing bouts of concussion symptoms. Maddy began visiting the concussion clinic at Royal North Shore Hospital to identify treat and manage her symptoms. The Australian-first clinic opened in 2022 to take a holistic approach to managing patients’ post-concussive symptoms. “I was experiencing a range of different symptoms like dizziness, irritation, confusion, lack of comprehension and social anxiety to name a few,” she said. “It had me really worried and I was really struggling.” “The clinic really validated what I was going through and offered me solutions.” Maddy credited the multidisciplinary nature of the clinic for the effectiveness of her recovery. “Being able to receive advice from a neurologist, a neuropsychologist, and a clinical nurse consultant was extremely helpful," she said. “Vicki Evans, Dr Miriam Priglinger and Dr Vince Oxenham have been nothing short of amazing in my recovery journey.

Neurologist Dr Miriam Priglinger, neuropsychologist Dr Vince Oxenham, Maddy Corbett and clinical nurse consultant Vicki Evans (Roach) AM.

14 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Mental health nurse named NSW Police Ku-ring-gai Local Area Command employee of the month

Emily Knight doesn’t wear a blue uniform and she doesn’t arrest anyone, but she was named NSW Police Ku-ring-gai Local Area Command’s Employee of the Month in June.

Emily is a mental health nurse but instead of working in a hospital, she works out of the police station as part of a program to have mental health workers as first responders with police. As part of the PACER program – a collaboration with NSW Police, NSW Ambulance and NSW Health – a clinician attends with police at

the point of crisis and can assist with de-escalation, conduct a mental health assessment, offer reassurance, support and provide clinical leadership, direction and alternative approaches. “Working with Ku-ring-gai Local Area Command has been the most rewarding experience of my career,” Emily said. “The police have been very welcoming and receptive of mental health clinicians within their service; and mental health has become an integral part of their team. “They have been extremely supportive of the PACER program and have shown a keen interest to learn and enhance their mental health knowledge, including how to approach different scenarios to achieve positive outcomes.” Northern Sydney Local Health District has mental health clinicians working at Hornsby and Dee Why police stations. Being acknowledged by her police colleagues was a humbling experience, Emily said. “I feel very honoured and appreciated by my police colleagues. I have been told it is unheard of and the first police organisation,” she said. “This makes a profound achievement and humbling experience.” time a civilian was awarded the Employee of the Month within the

Mental health nurse Emily Knight

15 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Drug and alcohol services transition to a new ward The Northern Sydney Local Health District inpatient drug and alcohol services unit launched its new facility at Royal North Shore Hospital. RNSH General Manager Alison Zecchin, Former Acting CE Lee Gregory, MHDA Service Director Kingsley Waterson, Director of MHDA Andrea Taylor and Senior Project Manager Alicia Duffy at the official opening

The unit, formerly located at the Herbert St clinic for the past 34 years, transitioned to its $1.5 million newly refurbished ward within the Douglas Building. The move enabled improved access to facilities and services for both clients and staff. Former Acting Chief Executive Lee Gregory said the new facility

will ultimately improve the experience of patients and staff. “I know the journey to this day has been long, and I wish our patients and staff the very best of wishes in your long-awaited new home,” he said. “We’ve already had some patients use the new space and I believe staff and clients are extremely

happy with the new surroundings.” Lee also acknowledged the efforts of former NSLHD CE Deb Willcox in enabling the transition. “In 2019 she made it her mission to find a new home for the inpatient drug and alcohol service and here we are.”

16 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Mona Vale’s palliative care unit treated 600th patient

Mona Vale Hospital’s palliative care staff

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

The unit has also established itself 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. Palliative Care staff specialist Dr Peter Roach said it was warming for the staff to receive regular positive feedback. He said that the unit was accredited for Advanced Training in Palliative Medicine with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and currently had two advanced trainees working in the unit.

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 has integrated the Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC) into its practice to help benchmark the service against other palliative care services. It has maintained a strong collaboration with the Northern Beaches Community Palliative Care Service and the palliative care team at Northern Beaches Hospital.

Mona Vale Hospital’s former 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.”

17 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Celebrations of NAIDOC Week across NSLHD Staff across the

Events were held at Ryde, Royal North Shore and Hornsby hospitals with traditional performances to celebrate this year’s theme – ‘For Our Elders’. Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service Peter Shine said: “This theme inspires all of us to celebrate the important role Aboriginal Elders have played and continue to play

and the prominent place they hold in communities and families. “Elders are cultural knowledge holders and guide generations, having paved the way for Aboriginal people to take the paths they can take today. “The tenacity and strength of our Elders has carried the survival of Aboriginal people.”

district celebrated and recognised the rich history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during NAIDOC Week.

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New era of scanning at RNSH an Australian-first

The team behind the Australian National Total Body PET facility at RNSH

A new high resolution, ultra-high sensitivity total body PET scanner was installed at Royal North Shore Hospital, benefiting patients and clinical research.

In an Australian-first, the state-of-the-art PET/CT scanner will be used equally for clinical research and to perform diagnostic scans for patients with cancer as well as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and unknown infections. Geoffrey Bassell, of Goulburn, was the first patient to undergo a scan using the new scanner equipment on its first official day of operation. The scanner was purchased through a collaboration with the University of Sydney, the

Federal Government’s National Imaging Facility and Northern Sydney Local Health District. Geoffrey is one of many patients benefiting from the Siemens’ Quadra, which halves the time it takes for a scan, and reduces the dose of radiation needed due to its precision. Head of Nuclear Medicine Professor Paul Roach said the previous PET/CT scanner used to take seven to eight images of the body which would take as long as 20 minutes.

“The new scanner is able to capture most of the body in just one image,” Paul said. “At least half the time the scanner will be used for our (hospital) patients and the other time it will be used by the university for clinical research.” The benefit to patients has been described as enormous, particularly cancer patients, by providing more rapid scans which have higher image quality and better diagnostic performance than previous versions.

19 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre opened at Hornsby

Staff from the new PECC

A new Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre (PECC) has opened at Hornsby Hospital, with staff delighted to be working in the unit.

consultation has everything neatly organised, enabling a streamlined workflow – there is a designated spot for everything.” Most importantly for the community, there are six beds compared to four previously, which allows improved access. “A huge amount of effort —and many meetings— went into the selection of artwork and décor to create a calm environment with elements of nature,” Natasha said. “My favourite spot is the outdoor courtyard, located off the consumer and family lounge. It is visible from the staff station and

The PECC is a short-stay mental health unit providing assessment, close observation and treatment for stabilisation. Nursing Unit Manager Natasha Sharma said the new PECC had been designed by staff with patients’ needs at the core of the features. “You really can’t compare this brand-new unit to the former PECC,” Natasha said. “The new PECC is a modern mental health unit which has been fitted out with the latest in mental health equipment and furnishings. The well thought-out plan that was devloped with extensive

is a beautiful, safe outdoor space for consumers to rest and relax.” The new environment impressed patients and families who gave it the thumbs up. “The modern infrastructure and welcoming environment have already led to improved and efficient consumer outcomes, and it has been so rewarding to hear such positive feedback from patients and families,” Natasha said. “All the hard work has already made a significant difference to staff and consumers. We are all very proud.”

20 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

New renal dialysis unit at Hornsby

Patients are thrilled to receive care at the new renal dialysis unit at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital, which is saving hours in travel time for many.

this life-saving treatment closer to home,” he said. “This is the first time in the hospital’s history that it has been able to offer this life-saving service and it will make such a difference to lives of patients, their families and carers. “We thank the clinicians at the Royal North Shore Hospital and Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital who through working collaboratively

The unit is a satellite dialysis unit of Royal North Shore Hospital and provides patients with nursing and renal management, which is available six days a week. Minister for Health Ryan Park visited the unit and was impressed with the new service that is being provided for the first time at the hospital. “I am delighted that residents of Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai who need renal dialysis can now have

have brought this new service to life.” Patients can receive their treatment – usually three times per week – close to home, instead of needing to travel to other hospitals. The new unit has already provided 1150 dialysis treatments since opening for 20 patients who were able to receive high-quality care at their local hospital.

Minister for Health Ryan Park tours the new renal dialysis unit

21 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

RNSH anaesthetists awarded grant for game-changing device

A team of anaesthetists from Royal North Shore Hospital were awarded funding as part of the NSW Health Sustainable Futures Innovation Fund.

Anaesthetists Ben Olesnicky, Andrew Lindberg and Carl D’Souza will develop a device that will convert excess anaesthetic gases, a potent greenhouse gas, into a harmless by-product.

The team will work alongside chemical engineers from UNSW Sydney to develop a clinical prototype device that has the capability of removing a significant proportion of gases

from the operating theatre before it reaches the environment. Once a successfully tested clinical prototype has been created, it could be adapted to fit all current anaesthetic machines in use across the state. “The device will use an ultraviolet light to convert the anaesthetic gas to harmless by-product, which will ensure no harmful exposure to patients, staff or the general population,” he said. reducing the amount of gases we use, but rather reducing their effect on the environment.” The device is currently undergoing laboratory testing and Ben says there could be potential for it to be implemented on a broader scale if it’s proven to be effective. “The device will not only help “This project isn’t necessarily about Royal North Shore to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint, but it could also be implemented on a larger scale to help reduce the health system's wider carbon footprint,” he said. The Northern Sydney Local Health District has been actively working on its sustainability efforts, committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2035, with most of the reduction – 70 to 80 per cent – to be achieved by 2030.

RNSH anaesthetists Andrew Lindberg, Ben Olesnicky and Carl D’Souza

22 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

Hornsby student midwives with expectant mum Nika

Student midwives give Hornsby families extra choices A unique program led by student midwives giving expectant women more choice in their care options at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital. The Students with Women

spare time, even though it is not a requirement. “We learn from the mums and the mums learn from us,” said Emma. “I really appreciate the relationship with the rest of the SWIM team: we collaborate as a team and we build rapport with the mothers.” Mum Nika is pregnant with her second child and is full of praise for the program. “In this program, I see the same midwife, familiar faces and this makes me feel more comfortable, more confident and more involved,” she said. The program has been running at Hornsby since 2007.

midwife through their pregnancy, birth and post-birth. Student midwife Gaby Sposari said the program allowed her to create a special bond with the families, as well as other midwives. “It is such a privilege to be part of a woman and her family’s special moment in their life,” she said. Gaby and her colleague Emma Roberts run their own clinics with the women every Friday as part of their placement to meet requirements to provide continuity of care to about 10 women in a year. They share on-call and attend the women’s births in their

Innovative Model with Midwifery Education (SWIM) program is the only one of its kind in the district and enables women to receive continuity of care throughout their pregnancy. The SWIM clinic is run by student midwives who provide antenatal care with the supervision of a senior midwife. The small team cares for the women and shares an on-call roster to attend the birth, in addition to a midwife and medical team. In return, women receive continuity of care by the same midwives, longer appointments with the midwife, and care from both the student and a senior

23 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

The clinic that helps cancer patients navigate their treatment

The Symptom Urgent Review Clinic (SURC) provides a care pathway for patients who experience complications during cancer treatment. The SURC operates alongside the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre Cancer Helpline and is operated by an experienced medical oncology nurse practitioner who assesses, diagnoses and manages a variety of medical complications that may arise during cancer treatment. The clinic has operated since 2018 and has received continual positive feedback from patients who use the service. Nurse Practitioner Meredith Oatley, who helps run the clinic, said the SURC increases the likelihood of early treatment intervention for patients as well as reducing emergency department (ED) presentations. “In the past patients would present to EDs because there wasn’t an alternative model of care to manage symptoms from cancer treatment,” she said. “The aim of the SURC is to give patients a place to go for assessment of symptoms. “The new model of care has provided a pathway for patients and their carers to navigate their treatment.” Meredith said patients are often referred to the clinic from the cancer helpline. “Patients that call the cancer helpline are triaged and can be referred to the clinic for assessment and management of their symptoms,” she said. “Patients can also self-refer to the clinic by calling the cancer helpline for an appointment.”

Nurse practitioner Meredith Oatley

24 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

A surgery first for Hornsby Hospital

Plastic surgeon Dr Tim Wang and anaesthetist Dr Chris Kay

Hornsby Hospital has conducted its first-ever major microsurgical soft tissue transplant. The procedure—known as a free flap— involved tissue from a patient’s back transplanted into their thigh. Plastic surgeon Dr Tim Wang, who performed the operation, said it was an exciting event at the hospital. “This is a major milestone as it not only means Hornsby can provide state-of-the-art reconstruction care to the local community, but staff are also learning important new skills,” he said. Free flap surgery is vastly different from a skin graft. With a free flap, a very thick piece of a patient’s own tissue is transplanted into another part of their body. The tissue can be made

He said the operation was a successful collaboration between management, nurses, and ICU. “It took a lot of work to physically get there in terms of people skills such as training nurses from the ward and ICU in how to look after and how to monitor a flap of this nature,” Tim said. Special equipment was needed for the procedure as well as coordinating theatre time. He said the operation is a sign of changing times at Hornsby, an area which has a growing population and a redeveloped hospital with surgeons and surgical services that need plastic surgery support. “Ultimately it is about being able to provide a full plastic surgery service at Hornsby Hospital — from lacerations in children, skin tears in the elderly to complex state of the art reconstruction,”

up of skin, fat, muscle, and bone, and its veins and arteries are reconnected under a microscope in their new location. A skin graft, however, involves shaving off a very thin piece of tissue from a patient or donor. The surgeon moves the skin to a different part of the body where it picks up a new blood supply and grows. While the free flap reconstruction technique has been used for decades, it has become the ‘gold standard’ treatment in the last 15 years. It is common with breast reconstruction and traumas of the lower limb. Tim said Hornsby Hospital had been planning to do a free flap procedure since it reopened its plastic surgery department in 2022. The patient, a local resident, was considered a good first case to take on.

25 NSLHD 2023 Year in Review

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