NSLHD News February 13

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



How to avoid “heartbreak” A world-first study has found common medications can reduce the risk of a heart attack in those grieving a loved one. Read more on Page 3

JMO Wellbeing forum a success Page 4

hornsby’s newmedical imaging department Page 7

Leaders in healthcare, partners in wellbeing


Message FROM the acting Chief executive Dr Tamsin Waterhouse

message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox

I would like to start by saying a huge thank you to all of our staff who have been so diligent in our state’s response to the novel coronavirus. Our hospital staff, especially those in our emergency departments, infection control and public health units, are doing an outstanding job. Naturally there has been a lot of concerns and questions from the general public and you have been extremely helpful, knowledgeable and compassionate in how you are responding to this emerging situation. We are still working with NSW Health to ensure the safety and health of our community and will continue to update staff along the way. While the recent downpour of rain was welcomed, it has caused many in our community and our own staff to be without power. I know many of you are personally affected yet are still working during this challenging time. Please speak to your managers if you need assistance while you are without power or experiencing personal hardship as a result of the weather conditions. I would like to commend our community staff, community health staff and disaster recovery teams who are also making contact with vulnerable patients who might be on their own or require help during this time. We also still have our staff on the ground in bushfire affected local health districts, doing what they can to assist our colleagues at Murrimbidgee and Southern NSW local health districts to care for their community. Our nurses, medical officers, social workers and mental health professionals have really immersed themselves in these

rural communities. I have had wonderful feedback from the CEs of both districts who are immensely grateful for the assistance. Our JMO Wellbeing Board Committee recently held its inaugural JMO Wellbeing Forum and I was delighted to attend. The evening was a huge success as we embarked on a number of important discussions about support, communication and building relationships between the executive and JMOs. I would like to thank Committee Chair Dr Linda Xu and deputy chair Dr Nims Hettiarachchi for their contribution as well as Dr Tamsin Waterhouse, Medical Executive Director and her assistant Kristina Boda for ensuring the evening was a success. Lastly, please join me in congratulating Jenny Parkin on her appointment as Acting General Manager of Mona Vale Hospital. Jenny started her new post on Monday in lieu of Jacqui Edgley, who has been seconded to Central Coast Local Health District. Many of you will know Jenny from her previous role as Deputy Director of Operations, NSLHD and we are looking forward to working with Jenny in her new role.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District


Co-authors Dr Marie-Christine Morel-Kopp with Professor Geoff Tofler

Common medication reduces risk of ‘heartbreak’ RNSH cardiologist Professor Geoffrey Tofler has led a world-first study which found that common medications can reduce the risk of a heart attack in those grieving the loss of a loved one. “Encouragingly, and to our surprise, reduced levels of anxiety and blood pressure persisted even after stopping the six weeks of daily beta blocker and aspirin.”

Co-investigator Associate Professor Tom Buckley said the study builds on the team’s work in this area. “While beta blockers and aspirin have been commonly used long term to reduce cardiovascular risk, they have not previously been used in this way as a short-term preventative therapy during bereavement,” he said. “Future studies are needed to assess if these medications could be used for other short periods of severe emotional stress such as after natural disasters, where currently there are no guidelines to inform clinicians.” Professor Tofler expressed gratitude to the participants whose loved ones died at Royal North Shore and the other Northern Sydney hospitals. He said that the successful completion of the study required a major multidisciplinary effort and support from hospital staff. The study co-authors were Dr Marie-Christine Morel-Kopp, Monica Spinaze, Jill Dent, Christopher Ward, Sharon McKinley, Anastasia Mihailidou, Jennifer Havyatt, Victoria Whitfield, Roger Bartrop (dec), Judith Fethney, Holly Prigerson, and Thomas Buckley. The study has received international attention and been published in the prestigious American Heart Journal. It was funded by Heart Research Australia.

Professor Tofler said while most people gradually adjust to the loss of a loved one, there is an increase in heart attacks and death among bereaved people, particularly those grieving a spouse or child. “This risk can last up to six months and is at its highest in the first days following bereavement,” he said. “Our study, involving the Kolling Institute, Royal North Shore and the University of Sydney, was the first clinical trial to show it is possible to reduce several cardiac risk factors during bereavement.” 85 spouses or parents were enrolled in the study within two weeks of losing a family member. Half the group received low daily doses of a beta blocker and aspirin for six weeks, while the other half were given placebos. “The main finding was that the active medication successfully reduced blood pressure and heart rate, as well as demonstrating some positive change in blood clotting tendency,” said Professor Tofler. “We were also reassured that the medication had no adverse effect on the psychological responses, and indeed lessened symptoms of anxiety and depression.”



Wellbeing forum a huge success Junior medical officers and senior executive staff from across the district came together recently for the inaugural JMO Wellbeing Forum.

The evening, which was hosted and facilitated by Julie McCrossin AM, was attended by more than 50 JMOs as a range of topics were explored. Staff were encouraged to share their thoughts on what more can be done at the local level to support junior medical staff, as well as addressing aspects of wellness. The JMO Wellbeing Board Committee, who organised the event, welcomes any new JMOs to join the committee and contact them with ideas on NSLHD-JMOWellbeingCommittee@health.nsw. gov.au

Look out for more initiatives and events throughout the year.

Vale Margaret Johnston

Margaret Johnston devoted almost 25 years of her nursing career to Ryde Hospital. The long-serving Ryde nurse spent her time in the Emergency Department as the NUM, dedicating those years to caring for the community. Margaret’s nursing career began after graduating from Albury Base Hospital on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. Margaret sadly passed away on 12 January aged 87.


Ryde’s new Deputy Director of Nursing Sophie Lange has joined the team at Ryde Hospital as the Deputy Director of Nursing. of large teaching hospitals in Sydney and overseas.

Sophie said she was thrilled to start a new chapter at Ryde Hospital. “I’m very excited to have started my new role at Ryde and I look forward to getting to know everyone,” she said.

Previously the Director of Nursing at Mona Vale Hospital, Sophie joins Ryde with extensive managerial and leadership experience. An accomplished registered nurse, Sophie brings a strong background in critical care having worked in a variety

New Ryde Hospital Deputy Director of Nursing Sophie Lange



District takes action after People Matter results It has been more than six months since more than 4000 NSLHD employees participated in the 2019 People Matter Engagement Survey (PMES) and the district has been busy taking action. “We want to make people’s experience working at NSLHD as good as it can be and we want people to feel included and engaged”.

NSLHD recorded one of the strongest engagement rates across the state’s health districts for the 2019 PMES. Since receiving the results of the survey, hospitals and services have been working hard to implement new and build upon existing initiatives based on staff feedback.

Director of People and Culture Paula Williscroft said the survey was all about taking action on what mattered to staff. “The PMES is the number one way we have to get some understanding of what our staff think, to hear their voice and we want them to know that we are listening,” she said.

You said

We did

59 per cent of staff

Launched the NSLHD Diversity Inclusion and Belonging Council to guide the development of the Diversity Inclusion and Belonging strategy

said senior managers in their organisation support the career

advancement of women, only 64% said they feel culturally safe in the workplace and 11% said they have experienced racism in the workplace in the past 12 months

Reintroduced local newsletters to support the District-wide newsletter to provide improved communications across all NSLHD facilities

52 per cent of staff feel that senior managers keep employees informed about what’s going on 46%

Enhanced the Executive Rounding programs at Hornsby, Ryde, Mona Vale and Royal North Shore to improve communication, feedback and feed forward

said they feel that senior managers listen to employees

52% of staff said

Continued Manager Toolkit training sessions to develop and support people management skills, with another 140 managers completing training in 2019

their manager deals appropriately with employees who perform poorly

Commenced work on a Change Management Framework due to be launched in March 2020

50% said they

feel that change is managed well

72% said they are able to speak up and share a different view to their colleagues and manager

Expanded the Speaking Up For Safety strategy beginning at Royal North Shore Hospital to Ryde and Mona Vale hospitals


Hornsby Ku-ring-gai General Manager Lee Gregory helps Ku-ring-gai MP Alister Henskens and Hornsby MP Matt Kean cut the ribbon to open the new Medical Imaging Department.

Hornsby’s new Imaging Department opens The new Medical Imaging Department at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital has opened boasting the latest scanning and imaging technology – including an MRI for the first time in the hospital’s history. scanner, new CTs, ultrasounds and x-rays. The local community will also benefit from a new orthopantogram (OPG) which allows for dental xrays and a fluoroscopy unit which is used widely for stroke patients to review speech and swallowing.

Hornsby MP, Matt Kean, and Ku-ring-gai MP, Alister Henskens, officially opened the department which is now double the size of the former unit. Staff are excited to care for patients in the new department which also has a SPECT

The $265 million redevelopment of the hospital is progressing well with other departments set to move into the new Clinical Services Building later this year.

Innovative approach to back pain Researchers from the Kolling Institute and the University of Sydney are conducting a study using text messages to support people with low back pain.

“We’re keen to measure the effectiveness of a new approach using technology. “Text messaging is an easy, accessible and affordable intervention that can empower people with low back pain to better manage their own symptoms. “Our TEXT4myBACK study will assess whether text messages are able to improve patients’ knowledge about their condition and decrease the costs associated with their alleviating their pain.” To find out more, watch the #TEXT4myBACK video at youtube.com/watch?v=zhtavBjLlyA or complete a pre-screening survey at bit.ly/TEXT4myBACK

Named TEXT4myBACK, the study will compare two different formats of text message interventions to help people better manage their symptoms. Professor Manuela Ferreira is expecting strong interest and participation in the study with large numbers of people across the community experiencing back pain. “Research has shown us that low back pain is the number one cause of disability worldwide, greatly impacting social, family and work activities,” Prof Ferreira said.



Getting the Chop for a good cause For 18 months Mun Yoke Kum waits patiently for her hair to reach waist length, or about 35.5cms long.

Once it has reached her desired length, she chops it off, only to start the process again. Mun, an Executive Assistant to the NSLHD Planning & Performance Department, donates her hair to charity so other people who have lost their hair due to illness, can have luscious locks. Her hair is made into a wig that is granted to people who may have lost their hair from cancer or through alopecia. While her hair is growing, Mun is unable to dye or chemically treat it and must have it chopped neatly in a ponytail to give to the charity organisation Variety. “Hair gives you confidence so you can imagine how someone who doesn’t have

Before and after of Mun Yoke Kum’s hair donation to Variety.

hair feels,” Mun said.

mind growing it again for the cause.” For more information on donating hair through Variety please visit www. variety.org.au/get-involved/ hair-donation or email hairwithheart@variety.org.au

It takes between 10-20 ponytails to make one wig. Next month Mun will have her hair cut, but plans on immediately growing it. “I don’t know what I want to do with my hair so I wouldn’t occasion of service. The hospital will always contact person to contact 1 first, and if they are unavailable they will use person to contact 2. Person to contact will not be used for seeking consent on behalf of the patient for a medical or dental procedure or if the patient has lost the capacity to consent. Ryde Hospital General Manager Heather Gough said these changes were a step

Changes being made to patient contacts Changes are being made in the Patient Administration System and electronic

forward in continuing to meet the needs of patients, their families and carers. “It is always complex to establish the difference between the Person to Contact for a patient and the patient’s Next of Kin or Person Responsible while wanting to deliver the best outcome for the patient,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to improve and get it right for the benefit of our patients and clients.”

Medical Record to identify a patient’s best contact person during their episode of care. In eMR the terms ‘Next of Kin’ and ‘Emergency Contact’ will be removed, and replaced with ‘Person to Contact 1 and 2.’ The person to contact is the person that the patient has nominated to liaise with the hospital on their behalf for the current admission or


Meet mona Vale’s new JMO s

Doctors Annemarie Robertson, John Pembroke, Tim Yee Joy and Robert Qiu

Mona Vale’s latest interns both agree that life as a junior doctor on the peninsula has got off to a great start. It came as no surprise to Dr Tim Yee Joy, who had only heard good things about the facility before starting there three weeks ago. “Before I knew I was at Mona Vale I was a bit nervous about starting as an intern,” he said. “My sister-in-law has been here before and she had great things to say about Mona Vale so I put it quite high on my preferences and so was very happy when I got it.” Dr John Pembroke echoed his colleagues sentiments, acknowledging the support from the multidisciplinary team had made the transition to life as an intern as smooth as possible. “It’s a very relaxed environment; they look after us very well,” John said. “There’s a very good ratio of staff to patients, which is

really good for us, we feel so well supported.” “The multidisciplinary care from the allied health and nursing teams gives us more time to chat with longer term patients.” Despite their enthusiasm for their newfound surroundings, both John and Tim were a bit more coy on enjoying the surrounding beaches and amenities.

“I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to the cold water so maybe I should have a swim while it’s still summer,” Tim said. “It is nice to look out over the golf course and the beach though,” John said. They are not the only new JMOs on the block though, with new registrars Robert Qiu and Annemarie Robertson also joining the team.


We know our staff do amazing things and we want to hear about it. Share your news, achievements and events with your District colleagues. Contact our team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD- media@health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.



HOME GROWN IDEA PLACES PHYSIO IN PATIENTS’ HANDS New research is testing a new way to meet the rapidly growing demand for physiotherapy in our public hospitals. health system and in some districts the waiting list for face-to-face treatment is very long.” In a project funded through Sydney Health

A clinical trial at four hospitals, including Hornsby and Royal North Shore, is studying whether some patients can successfully undertake physiotherapy exercises at home and still experience the same benefit provided by attending a hospital clinic. “Demand for physio is increasing rapidly because we have an aging population and because clinicians and consumers have a growing appreciation of its benefits for some conditions,” said Professor Lisa Harvey from Northern Sydney Local Health District and the Kolling Institute. “But its popularity has created a patient access and equity issue. There are simply not enough physiotherapists to meet the demand in the NSW

Partners, Professor Harvey, in collaboration with NSW Health physiotherapists and academics, is using a web-based application to provide trial participants with individually- customised sets of exercises to do at home. “After a face-to- face assessment, a physiotherapist uses our web application to select and compile a set of exercises suitable for their condition,” Professor Harvey said. “The patient is then given a unique website link to their individual exercise program. “They also get messages of encouragement via text messages, and a physiotherapist telephones the patient after two weeks to give them advice,

support and reassurance. “In many cases we believe it’s better for patients if they come to see their problem as something they can address if given appropriate support.” The project is testing the theory that some patients experience better physio outcomes when not dependent on face-to-face treatment.

Share your views about improving your workplace Teamwork is the foundation of delivering care in a modern health environment, and the best teamwork comes when people feel empowered to be their true selves, and feel their contributions are valued. Matter Engagement Survey provides some information to inform us, but now we want to look at the issues in-depth.

In February and March we will be holding some preliminary focus groups to give you the opportunity to tell us your thoughts about building a diverse, inclusive workforce. Come along and share your insights and ideas. Dates can be found in the upcoming events section of the intranet. If you are unable to attend in person you can share your thoughts via an online survey at surveymonkey.com/r/DIBPlan

NSLHD is seeking to ensure the fundamental ability for everyone to work cohesively, as an engaged and empowered workforce, but we need your help. We want your feedback about what makes an inclusive workplace, and what we need to do to maximise the success of a diverse workforce, one in which everyone feels valued and as if they belong. The recent People


VALE PROFESSOR STEPHEN HUNYOR Professor Stephen Hunyor was an

internationally acclaimed and recognised cardiologist at Royal North Shore Hospital, where he worked for more than 30 years. Sadly, Stephen recently passed away. Hungarian-born, Stephen was instrumental to the establishment and growth of clinical research endeavours at the hospital – his academic interests ranging from hypertension to stem cell research – and was renowned for his leadership in the field. Beyond the walls of the hospital, Stephen was the Professor of Medicine and Director of the Cardiac Technology Centre in the Kolling Institute. He had a particular interest in translational research, studying heart damage and repair with a focus on heart failure and its treatment with devices. In his later years, he turned his attention towards research in stem cell biology and how it could be applied to treat heart conditions. Chief Executive Deb Wilcox said Stephen will be remembered for his significant contribution to both clinical care and research. “Stephen was part of the visionary group of cardiologists who established the North Shore Heart Research Foundation, now known as Heart Research Australia,” she said. “This was a major milestone in the development of Academic Cardiology at Royal North Shore Hospital.” As well as his achievements at the hospital, Stephen published more than 180 papers, edited four books and co-invented four patents. In the late 1980s, he won international praise for his innovative work on pacemaker technology and was invited to speak at universities across the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. In the 1990s, Stephen was the Director of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Cardiac Technology which had a major program in Polymer research and involved highly effective collaboration between

Professor Stephen Hunyor

hospitals, Universities, CSIRO and industry.

In 2005 he founded Heart Assist Technologies, a ‘start-up’ company that developed a unique implantable heart assist device, and was the Chairman until 2009. In 2006 Stephen became a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Project Grants Review Panel. He advised government on R&D policy; was Chair of Australia’s first ‘Commercializing Health Innovations Forum’, and established the Intellectual Property Unit within the NSW State Health Department. Long-term colleague, Professor Greg Nelson, Head of Department of Cardiology at Royal North Shore Hospital, remembers Stephen’s advice and guidance at the start of his career. “Stephen was one of my early mentors in cardiology and stimulated my interest in cardiac haemodynamics,” he said. “In the latter years I have taken over management of many of his former patients. Uniformly they were appreciative of the personalised care he gave them and never failed to ask of his wellbeing.” A funeral service was held for Stephen on Thursday 13 February at St Francis Xavier Church, Lavender Bay.


Novel coronavirus If you have any concerns, call your GP or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. Visit www.health.nsw.gov.au to find out about novel coronavirus, health advice and daily updates

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