NSLHD News 1 October 2021

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


Main story Short blurb RNSH and Kolling drivE leading arthritis and back pain research A Centre for Research Excellence to improve care for inflammatory arthritis will be based on the oyal N th Shore Hospital campus. Read more on Page 6 Read more on Page x

wellbeing packs for young people in hospital Page 7

Planetary health in the spotlight Page 4


Message from the Chief Executive Deb Willcox

Over the last few months while we have all been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic I have not been able to visit staff across the district as much as I would have liked. I value the communication and sharing of information with staff and your feedback is so important, which is why I am really looking forward to being able to visit our hospitals and services more when restrictions ease. By hearing from staff directly, it gives me a better understanding of the things we need to work on to make it easier for you to provide the best care for our patients. Which is why I am pleased I have been able to start connecting with staff in a different way via live video updates. The updates are an additional way of ensuring staff are kept up-to-date on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and answer your questions. I understand many of you won’t be able to join me online in real-time, so recordings are being made available on the intranet homepage here: https://bit.ly/3okIQji It is reassuring to see the cases of COVID-19 in NSW seeming to stabilise and the vaccination rates increase so rapidly. The Clinical Advisory Group still continues to meet three times a week to guide the district on its response and is watching the modelling closely to ensure our hospitals and services meet any surge in patients that need our care. We have built additional capacity for COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care or treatment at our hospitals. I want to thank our ICU and hospitals teams for all they have been doing to enable us to open up more beds and have the staffing in place to care for an increased number of patients.

With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the next fortnight we have to make sure we are not complacent. As healthcare workers, we need to continue to be strong advocates for vaccination, as well as the continuing to follow the important infection prevention measures as we advise and encourage our family and friends. We are fortunate our district’s community has come forward to get vaccinated at very high rates and we are seeing low COVID-19 transmission rates in northern Sydney. However, to ensure we reach the more vulnerable members of our community we have set up dedicated vaccination outreach clinics to reach those in social housing, with drug and alcohol or mental health issues and our Aboriginal community. Many staff have put their hand up to go and assist colleagues in other parts of the health system – at the Special Health Accommodation (SHA), vaccination centres, swab clinics and assisting our colleagues in regional New South Wales. Every time we call out for assistance, we receive a wonderful response from staff wanting to help. I would like to thank you all for the professionalism in which you are managing the ever changing demands of this pandemic.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



A screenshot from the Glad You Asked Peer Worker video

Video brings a tear to the eye There wasn’t a dry eye following the online launch of the Glad You Asked Peer Worker video

consumer peer worker roles through the peer workers at Northern Sydney Local Health District, celebrating their unique skillset and uncovering aspects of the role which are not widely understood or may even be stigmatised. During the inspiring video, viewers meet individuals who have a lived experience of mental health who sit down and share their experiences in a very honest way. Viewing the video for the first time, Minister Taylor congratulated the code on the result report. The portal at my.pathology. health.nsw.gov.au uses a secure, one-time passcode issued to a person’s mobile phone. Here they can view and download a copy of their personal result report that contains their name, date of sample collection, COVID-19 result, unique

peer workers and those involved in the video’s production for a heart- warming and important resource. “I am really passionate about the peer worker workforce in mental health,” Minister Taylor said. “Thank you so much for sharing your story and doing what you do because without that we wouldn’t have incredible services.” The video can be viewed online here: https://bit.ly/2Zy4o1B QR code for verification, and other identifying information. Currently, people can receive their results through a text message sent to their mobile phones. This new method allows for a record of the result to stay online and for other authorised parties to view the test results.

produced by NSLHD’s Mental Health Drug and Alcohol services. Viewing online was Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor, who was joined by NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox; Fay Jackson, inaugural deputy commissioner for the NSW Mental Health Commission and MC for the event, along with dozens of staff and peer workers. The Glad You Asked Video explores the nature of launched a new Results Portal to make it easier and more convenient for people to securely get their COVID-19 test result, both negative and positive. The portal also allows for authorised third parties, such as employers, schools or airlines to view the individual test results by scanning the unique QR

Convenient and easy COVID-19 test results portal NSW Health Pathology has



planetary health in the spotlight A dedicated sustainability lead has joined Northern

in this space.” Kate joins NSLHD from South Eastern Sydney Local Health District where she had been the Environmental Sustainability Lead since 2018. She has worked in Australia as a hospital doctor and then internationally in public health medicine and environmentally sustainable healthcare. She also holds a PhD in low-carbon healthcare. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said Kate is an exemplar in the field of healthcare climate risk. “We are so pleased to have Kate on board with her extensive experience in public health medicine and environmental sustainability,” Deb said. “Kate’s position as the climate risk lead at the Sydney North Health Network (SNHN) also creates a strong partnership between NSLHD and SNHN in this important area.” The position is supported

Sydney Local Health District to enhance planetary health and elevate environmental initiatives already underway. Doctor Kate Charlesworth has been appointed as the senior medical consultant for Planetary Health, and will be responsible for driving the implementation of the NSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2021-23 while providing expert advisory services on planetary health and environmental sustainability in NSLHD hospitals and services. there is such a strong commitment across all areas of the organisation – including frontline staff, management, the executive team and the Board – for planetary health,” Kate said. “Climate risk is emerging as a major issue for health and health services and NSLHD is well positioned to be one of the leaders “I am delighted to join NSLHD where

Dr Kate Charlesworth

by the NORTH Foundation. Have you seen a great sustainability initiative that could be implemented in your department, ward or office? NSLHD staff can submit new and existing ideas – to reduce NSLHD’s carbon footprint and improve the health of the community – in the Planetary Health Staff Ideas Portal for consideration here. To find out more about the NSLHD’s commitment to planetary health, visit https://bit.ly/3ma0S57

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New technology key to better care for whiplash injuries New research is set to

occurred in both men and women, but to a larger extent in women and in the deep muscles, attaching directly to the spine. “Our study demonstrated a game-changing approach which may have significant implications for the diagnosis and treatment of those with a whiplash injury. “The gains in MRI technology and the rapid acquisition techniques mean we are able to diagnose injuries which “There are many personal stories where people have experienced long term constant pain, but no physical changes could be found through imaging. “Importantly, this wouldn’t have been captured in the past.

new process could be incorporated into clinical radiology practice, which would open up new treatment pathways.” Professor Elliott said the findings are significant given that more than 2.6 million Australians and four million Americans suffer a whiplash-associated- disorder every year. “Whiplash disorders are a leading cause of disability worldwide, costing the Australian economy around a $AUD1 billion a year, and the American economy more than $USD100 billion per annum. “We believe this new technological approach will deliver diagnostic, predictive and clinical benefits.”

revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of whiplash injuries, one of the most common and challenging injuries following a non- catastrophic motor vehicle collision. The longitudinal study, conducted over more than five years, involved researchers from the Kolling Institute along with scientists from Northwestern University, University of Colorado and Stanford University. As part of the trial, more than 80 people underwent MRI scans of their neck two weeks after their crash and then again at 12 months. The scans measured muscle composition, a key indicator of whiplash injury and other disorders of the cervical spine. The Kolling’s Acting Executive Director and NSLHD Professor of Allied Health Jim Elliott said the project took advantage of improvements in high resolution MRI and rapid acquisition and measurement techniques. “We innovatively applied artificial intelligence, dramatically reducing the processing times of measuring muscle composition from hours to seconds,” he said.

“We found changes in muscle composition


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



RNSH and Kolling drivE leading arthritis and back pain research A Centre for Research

be working to confirm the best options for symptom relief, with the least risk of side effects,” she said. “As the lead national site, we’ll be expanding our national registry and biospecimens collection and our rheumatology research community. This will put us in the best position to broaden our understanding of the complex condition prevention, prediction and precision medicine. And to one day find a cure.” Professor Manuela Ferreira has also been awarded a $2.5 million NHMRC grant to continue her research to improve care for low back pain in Australia and internationally. and improve health outcomes through Manuela has welcomed the funding to focus on a condition which causes more disability than any other health challenge. “Nearly 570 million people in the world suffer from debilitating low back pain, while in Australia the condition affects a quarter of the population, and costs more than $8 billion a year Lorquet said. Since 1988, more than $47 million has been received from thousands of grateful patients and members of the community to support projects across the NSLHD, including: • Aged care research at Hornsby Hospital; • Purchasing of equipment for Royal North Shore Hospital’s NICU; • Funding to grow Ryde Community Health Services and outreach.

Excellence to improve care for inflammatory arthritis will be based on the RNSH campus following an announcement by Health Minister Greg Hunt. The minister revealed the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council funding, which will see $2.5 million invested in the centre over the next five years. RNSH Head of Rheumatology Professor Lyn March will lead the research efforts, backed by a large team within the Kolling Institute as well as leading national collaborators. Lyn said the Centre for work developing a national registry and biospecimens collection to improve health outcomes for those living with inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune conditions. “We are delighted to launch Research Excellence follows many years of this nationally significant program which aims to identify the best treatment pathways for men, women and children living with inflammatory arthritis. We’ll

Professor Manuela Ferreira

in healthcare expenses and lost work opportunities,” she said. “We know that low back pain is often poorly managed, with many current treatments causing more harm than good. “We are seeing a fragmented and inefficient approach which delays access to the right care for low back pain and delivers treatments which are not backed by robust evidence. “Our program of research will work towards improving care by broadening knowledge around the efficacy and safety of the most common surgical procedures, and by developing innovative digital approaches to bring high value care to patients with low back pain.” learning more about how to include a gift in their will, please get in touch with us,” Gilbert said. To learn more, please visit the NORTH Foundation website and download an enquiry pack: https://northfoundation.org. au/how-you-can-help/leave-

Embracing Gifts in Wills Gifts in wills are an investment in the future of healthcare for generations to come, and these acts of generosity allow the district to support, grow and improve its health services and medical research. “We are so grateful that the number of people within our community who have chosen to include a gift in their will to the NSLHD or one of its services, has drastically increased over the last few years. This generosity is having a huge impact on our

a-gift-in-your-will/ or for a confidential

conversation, contact nicky. jacobs@northfoundation.org. au.

services and will continue for years to come,” NORTH Foundation CEO Gilbert

“If you, a loved one or a patient is interested in



WELLBEING PACKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN HOSPITAL Wellbeing packs have been given to young people across Northern due to COVID-19 can mean some

were thought to be quite isolated,” Kate said. “The wellbeing packs and a visit by NSLHD’s therapy dog, Herbie, were our way to help keep their mind active and bring a smile to their day,” Lauren said. The wellbeing packs consisted of fun activities such as mindfulness colouring, dot-to-dot

Sydney Local Health District hospitals and North Ryde Special Health Accommodation (SHA) as part of the R U OK? Day campaign. The wellbeing packs are a partnership between NSLHD Health Promotion, NSLHD Youth Health and Ku-ring-gai Council and were distributed to 50 young patients Youth health clinicians Kate Tolley and Lauren Huntley said the initiative came about after youth health nurses reported being concerned about the wellbeing of adolescent and young adults they were seeing in hospital. “Many young patients are already overwhelmed about being in hospital, but adding visitor restrictions Awareness Week – which aims to raise awareness of chronic wounds. This year’s theme was ‘the solution is bleeding obvious.’ Clinical Nurse Consultant, Stomal Therapy and Wound Care, Rachel Hodgkins said all healthcare professionals need to be wound aware as everyone working in healthcare will come across wounds. “These may be surgical incisions, wounds that occur as a result of trauma or wounds that are complications of diseases and conditions and can result in chronic wounds,” she said.

North Shore Hospital. An Origami-lover, she was pleased to use her pack. Another young patient said he would use the colouring activity for a virtual date night. While recovering from surgery, he intended to video call his girlfriend and both do some colouring in. Anika received a wellness pack during her stay in the Child and Adolescent Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital

drawings, origami creations and coloured pencils and paper, helpful breathing exercises, as well as some delicious treats, a stress ball and drink bottle. Anika Watts received a wellness pack during her stay in the Child and Adolescent Unit at Royal

Wound Awareness Week 2021 Northern Sydney Local Health District recently celebrated Wound “People with chronic diseases such as

diabetes or those

over 65 are more at risk of chronic wounds.” Every year over 420,000

Staff at Ward 8B with a winner of the quiz, Boh

Awareness Week, Royal North Shore Hospital had a daily quiz for staff. There was also an opportunity for staff to undertake virtual wound education during the week. For further information please see http://www. woundaware.com.au/about- wound-awareness-week/

Australians suffer from a chronic wound. They are a ‘hidden affliction’ that is alarmingly common and many people suffer with their wound for much longer than they need to. With the right treatment, a chronic wound can be healed. To support Wound



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