NSLHD News August 9

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


Main story Short blurb innova ion program round 2 winner T e eam has received funding for 3D technology to improve experience and clinical outcomes for patients with facial burn injuries.

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graduate health management program 2022 intake open Page 3

Research spotlight: effectiveness of spinal surgery Page 6


Message from the board chair Trevor Danos AM

The NSLHD executive team has been keeping the Board briefed on the impact the COVID-19 Delta and the strain the current outbreak in NSW is having on our hospitals and services and the delivery of care across the district. The Delta strain is testing the state’s health system in ways we could not have imagined a few months ago. This is a very trying time for our staff, our patients and their families as well as older community members living independently or in nursing homes. Everyone is feeling the challenges of lockdown, isolation, home schooling and being separated from loved ones. During these times there are also many positives. We have exceptionally strong, agile and compassionate leadership in the executive leadership team led by our Chief Executive Deb Willcox. We have first rate infection controls in place. We are making the most of telehealth opportunities. We are working closely with primary care providers and with Sydney North Primary Health Network. The Board was very reassured that more than 90 per cent of staff have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 80 per cent have had both doses meaning staff at NSLHD are the most vaccinated in any local health district in NSW. Also reassuring is the fact that there are more than adequate supplies of PPE. There are strengthened close links with local nursing homes and disability service providers. The district is working closely with local private hospitals to manage any elective surgery backlogs. And plans are in place to redeploy our staff to boost staff numbers where it is safe, appropriate and effective to do so. It all adds up to a health system and a district that are first-class and one of which we can all be very proud.

The executive leadership team is very focused on the mental wellbeing of our staff. The Board is immensely impressed with staff who have gone above and beyond for close to 18 months, always putting patients’ needs first. We know there is fatigue and exhaustion, made worse by the uncertainty of when this lockdown will end. We understand the frustration of staff having to self-isolate and it is pleasing to learn that additional trained psychologists have been employed to get around our hospitals and facilities. The Speaking Up for Safety program has also been strengthened and expanded. You can find out more about the program on the Intranet here – http:// intranet.nslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Safety/ Pages/default.aspx. In these trying times strength can be taken from our daily wins, from the district’s long and proud track record and from our CORE values of collaboration, openness, respect and empowerment. If you are asking yourself what more you could do, please consider: trust in the district’s leadership; continue to provide the best possible care to our patients and consumers; remain honest, open, clear and calm; look out for friends and colleagues; put up your hand if you are struggling or need help; and encourage everyone to get vaccinated. The Board is very aware of the hard work and planning underway to ensure the district can continue to provide high- quality and safe care during this period, and I would like to thank you for your commitment.

Trevor Danos AM Board Chair Northern Sydney Local Health District



(Left to right) Former graduates Theo Panagopoulos and Matilda Meehan with CE Deb Willcox and Marissa Fuller

Graduate Health Management Program 2022 now open Working as a ward clerk

gives graduates the opportunity to undertake placements with senior executives across both hospital and district portfolios. Graduates can apply for the general stream, like Marissa, which involves undertaking three placements during their first year and one 12-month placement during their second year. Graduates can also apply for the finance stream which is open to applicants with a university degree in accounting, finance, business or commerce. Following the program, Marissa took on the position of Executive Officer, Strategic Operations where she works across a range of strategic projects. “NSLHD is a complex

and constantly evolving organisation, no two days are the same, and the challenges presented to you are equally unique, complex and exciting,” she said. “One of the key benefits of the program is the opportunity to work alongside some of the most brilliant and brightest minds in the NSW Health system.” Applications are currently open for the Graduate contact Graduate Health Management Coordinator, Jane Nethery - jane. nethery@health.nsw.gov. au. Find out more here https:// www.nslhd.health.nsw.gov. au/Careers/GHMP/Pages/ default.aspx. Health Management Program 2022 intake. For more information

at Hornsby Hospital whilst completing her undergraduate degree, Executive Officer, Strategic Operations Marissa Fuller knew she wanted to pursue a career in health. But with a commerce degree under her belt, Marissa thought she had limited options in the health industry. “It wasn’t until I came across the Northern Sydney Local Health District Graduate Health Management Program that I realised the different opportunities I did have,” she said. “The program is designed to introduce you to the health system and no previous experience or study in health or management is required.” The two-year program

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INNOVATION Pitch round 2 winner: TECH FOR BURNS MANAGEMENT Former Royal North

Shore Hospital burns unit patient Amanda Wright was determined future patients should not have to experience traditional casting methods to help manage severe facial burns like she had. It was through the fundraising efforts of her and husband David that the Orthotics, Occupational Therapy and Severe Burn Injury Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital came across modern 3D technology that would transform the care of patients with burn injuries. The multidisciplinary team have been awarded a $50,000 grant as part of Northern Sydney Local Health District’s innovation program to fund the 3D scanning technology at the hospital to improve patient experience and clinical outcomes for patients with facial burn injuries, like Amanda’s. RNSH Orthotics Department Senior Orthotist Tom Short said the new technology will replace traditional casting methods in the design and manufacture of transparent facial orthoses used for facial scar management.

The Innovation Pitch Round 2 winning team from Orthotics, Occupational Therapy and Severe Burns Injury Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital

“The hospital receives a high volume of severe burns patients, and many of those with burn injuries to their face and neck require specialised face masks to assist in recovery,” Tom said. “The current issue with our process is that a direct mould must be taken onto the skin and scarred area which can be very sensitive and painful. “The process takes several hours to prepare and mould, require significant skill to apply and can be easily deformed.” The new 3D scanning will simplify this process significantly for Tom and his team. Occupational Therapist Akane Katsu said the technology will have a significant impact on patient experience, most importantly by reducing re-traumatisation that

occurs by the traditional casting methods. “The 3D scanning is contact-free and less painful for patients,” Akane said. “Patients will not require general anaesthesia to manage the distress from undergoing the traditional casting methods, and it can be taken in the most functional position and will enable more accurate imaging of the face.” Amanda said: “We are so thrilled SBU will finally be receiving this much needed piece of equipment. “A big thank you to our family, friends, and the staff in the burns unit for all of your support.” The 3D scanning technology will arrive at the hospital in the last quarter of this year. To find out more about the NSLHD innovation program, please visit https://www.nslhd. health.nsw.gov.au/ ImprovementHub/Pages/ Applyforprog.aspx. Applications are currently open for round three of the innovation program.

Amanda (right) with her husband and children



Research: effectiveness of spinal surgery New research has found that while the majority of Australian spinal surgeons expect large improvements microdiscectomy. Principle investigator David Anderson said it was important to investigate the effectiveness of

from common spinal procedures, they say there’s only poor quality scientific evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of surgery compared with non- surgical approaches like physiotherapy. A team from the Kolling Institute’s Back Pain Research group and the University of Sydney surveyed around a third of the nation’s spinal surgeons in the largest study of its type in Australia. The research was the first in the world to examine surgeon’s opinions on the evidence for the two most common spinal surgeries, lumbar decompression and

these surgeries which are undertaken to reduce pain and improve mobility with lumbar spinal stenosis. “This can be a painful, disabling condition and the most common cause of spine surgery in older adults,” he said. “Our investigations found that while surgeons on average expect an 86 per cent improvement lumbar decompression surgery, and a 89 per cent improvement after microdiscectomy, they believed more research was necessary. “Just under 90 per cent of surgeons said more data was needed on the effectiveness of spinal surgeries compared with non-surgical treatments like physiotherapy and medications. “Surgeons particularly called for greater scrutiny over lumbar fusion surgery for spinal stenosis. “In fusion surgery spinal in a person’s pain three months after

David Anderson

implants. “Interestingly, we also found differences in the way these common operations are performed by Australian and European surgeons. “We found that more European surgeons prefer minimally invasive spinal surgical procedures than Australian surgeons. Minimally invasive spine surgery is appealing, but we don’t yet have clinical studies to prove it is more effective. “The survey shows that many Australian spine surgeons would not agree that these techniques are better.” The study was a collaborative project also involving surgeons from Concord, Liverpool, Nepean hospitals, the University of New South Wales, and Prince of Wales Hospital.

segments are fused together using spinal


Share your news and achievements. Contact our team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD-media@health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.



new carer identification card COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges for everyone; but a new initiative by the NSLHD Carer Support Service is helping to open doors for those when they need it most.

The Carer Identification Card clearly identifies carers to staff, smoothing the path at what can often be a difficult time. One of those carers is Helen, whose husband is a long term burns patient at Royal North Shore Hospital. She says the ID has given her stress free movement between her carers’ accommodation in the Douglas Building to her husband’s bedside. “I think because of COVID the ID has made it a lot easier, they see this and I can go on my way,” Helen said. “Everyone across the board has been fantastic; I have nothing but praise for social work and Barbara [Lewis, Carer Support Manager] and all the staff in the hospital.” Helen said her husband’s hospitalisation was

Helen with her carer identification card

Northern Sydney Local Health District Child and Family Healh Services provides support and information at any time during parents breasfeeding journey. For more information visit: nslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/ CYFH/Pages/default.aspx challenging enough, without the advent of a greater Sydney lockdown, which means she cannot return home to the Hunter Valley, nor can anyone come and visit. Barbara said the simple initiative was delivering great benefits for carers, their loved ones and staff. “The ID is a small, but helpful way to identify carers and ensure they receive the support they need from all staff,” she said. “For someone like Helen, it allows her to move around in what is a challenging environment for visitors currently, but for staff it also identifies a person who

has intimate knowledge of the patient and their care needs. “Identifying Carers is not only important during these times, but all the time. “It is anticipated that this initiative will be ongoing to help our health service staff know who the carer is and provide the right engagement with them, throughout their journey, whether they are accessing hospitals for acute care of outpatient appointments. “I would encourage those who would like to know more about the ID, or any other ways they can support carers, to contact our team on 9462 9488.”

world breastfeeding week World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from 1-7 August. This year’s theme is ‘Protect breastfeeding: a

shared responsibility’ which is about how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all.



Expertise at the Kolling recognised Congratulations to

manuscripts over his career. Kolling Acting Executive Director Jim Elliott said the impact of Professor Hunter’s research on both clinical practice and policy is unparalleled in the field of health services for osteoarthritis. “David’s research has shifted clinical practice from a model based on the use of high cost, high risk and low value treatment approaches to an evidence- based, patient-driven care model,” he said. “David led the development of the Osteoarthritis Chronic Care Program, the first multidisciplinary model of care program for osteoarthritis patients in

National Tree Day To celebrate National Tree Day this year, hospitals and services across Northern Sydney Local Health District will plant the floral emblem of NSW, a waratah, at their grounds. health and sustainability continue to be a priority for Northern Sydney Local Health District. “A key strategy in the NSLHD Planetary Health Framework is the development of green space across our hospital campuses,” she said. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said planetary “The Premier’s ‘Greening our City’ priority aims to increase tree canopy and green cover across Greater Professor David Hunter who’s been announced as a finalist for Research Australia’s annual Health and Medical Research Awards. The prestigious awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals Florance and Cope Chair of Rheumatology, is a finalist in the health services award category. He is regarded as the leading osteoarthritis expert internationally, having published more than 500 peer-reviewed and teams who drive innovative health and medical research. Professor Hunter, the

Professor David Hunter

Australia. “It’s currently being

introduced by NSW Health to all public hospitals, and has already reached more than 20,000 people.” The award winners will be announced at a gala event planned for later in the year.

CE Deb Willcox with waratahs given to each of the district’s hospitals and services

Sydney, so we are doing our part across the district this National Tree Day.” To find out more about how you can get involved in National Tree Day, visit https://treeday.planetark.

org/ To find out more about NSLHD’s commitment to planetary health, visit https://www.nslhd.health. nsw.gov.au/AboutUs/ Pages/planetaryhealth.aspx



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