NSLHD News May 31

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


Main story Short blurb P llia ive Care week T is week we celebrated the amazing dedication of all those working and volunteering in palliative care.

Read more on Page x Read more on Page 3

Welcoming Gus to NSLHD Page 11

Thanking our volunteers Page 7


Message from the Chief Executive Deb Willcox

Our district prides itself on being a leader in so many fields and throughout this pandemic we have proven that through our response. It is no surprise that we are also leading the state in COVID-19 vaccinations, with more than 10,000 AstraZeneca doses administered through our hospital clinics. This is a fantastic achievement and I thank all of our staff working hard to make this happen, as well as our staff and their families coming forward to receive their vaccination. From Monday 31 May, our Royal North Shore Hospital vaccination clinic will be administering Pfizer. This will complement our other hospital vaccination hubs at Hornsby and Mona Vale hospitals which are seeing positive numbers of people receive AstraZeneca. National Sorry Day was held on May 26 which commemorates the Stolen Generations, their families and communities, and marks the anniversary of the tabling in Federal Parliament of the Bringing Them Home Report. This report was the result of a National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. It was a pivotal moment in the healing journey of many Stolen Generations survivors and the first time their stories of removal from their families were acknowledged in such a way. The week that follows is National Reconciliation Week – from 27 May to 3 June – which commemorates two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey, the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision. It is not only an important time for all

Australians to reflect on what actions we can take to in the reconciliation, but as healthcare professionals it is a time to reflect on the role we play in improving the lives and health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Earlier this month we celebrated some of the unsung heroes in our hospitals during National Volunteers Week. Restrictions in 2020 meant we could not get together and celebrate, but this year I had the pleasure of attending a ceremony at Royal North Shore Hospital and meeting some of our volunteers in person. We are delighted to welcome volunteers back to our hospitals and I thank them for their understanding and patience as we navigate the challenges of the pandemic. Words cannot express how much we appreciate our volunteers’ dedication and loyalty to their role and our patients. Finally, applications are open for the second round of the Innovation Program for 2021. The program gives staff a chance to receive up to $50,000 in funding for an innovative idea that can transform and improve the way we deliver care to our patients. Over the years we have seen some incredible ideas come forward and I look forward to seeing your entries. Applications for round two close on Monday 31 May. If you would like further information or assistance submitting your application please contact NSLHD-InnovationProgram@ health.nsw.gov.au or visit https://bit. ly/2RKbyw7.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District

NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 10 | 31 MAY 2021


Staff at Mona Vale enjoyed morning tea for Palliative Care Week

Palliative care takes centre stage in NSLHD It has been a big year for palliative care in Northern Sydney Local Health District. So far in 2021, there has Vale Hospital which has been without a doubt a very welcome addition to existing palliative care services in NSLHD.” The team has also worked

been the opening of a new specialist palliative care unit, the launch of the end of life symbol, as well as a new staff specialist appointment at Hornsby Hospital, Dr Cynthia Parr, and a district nursing award for PalCare Clinical Nurse Consultant Ann-Marie Perry. During the week, staff at Mona Vale hosted the bereavement bag volunteers at the new PalCare unit, while staff also celebrated the success of the new service with morning tea. “We are very proud of the ongoing commitment in NSLHD to ensuring that care at the end of life is considered as important as care at any other time of people’s lives,” Clinical Director of Palliative Care Professor Katy Clark said. “Perhaps one of the most pleasing changes locally has been the opening of the new palliative care unit at Mona

closely with Aboriginal health in developing the culturally appropriate end of life symbol. Incorporating the Angophora tree and flower, the symbol is used by staff to identify patients receiving care at the very end of life. The Angophora has a spiritual significance for Aboriginal Peoples, encompassing birth, life and death, which is why it was chosen for this very important project. Studio Artes’ artists Jaycee and Cara produced the beautiful symbol and were recently thanked at a presentation. As part of the initiative, a staff training and awareness video was also produced which can be viewed at: bit. ly/3m77uB0

Artist Cara from Studio Artes, along with Jaycee (front cover) helped to design the symbol

Professor Katy Clark with the End of Life symbol



Dr Anastasia Mihailidou (left) and Professor Gemma Figtree (right)

TWO nslhd women join global panel to beat heart disease Two of NSLHD’s leading cardiovascular experts have been appointed to a prestigious world expert panel to reduce rates of themselves for a healthier future. “The Commission will continue to observe trends, evaluate the effect of current

cardiovascular disease in women. Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) interventional cardiologist and Kolling Institute researcher, Professor Gemma Figtree, and RNSH senior hospital scientist and Kolling Institute researcher, Dr Anastasia Mihailidou, have been appointed commissioners of The Lancet women and cardiovascular disease Commission. The pair joins the all-female panel of 17 experts who are calling for urgent action on cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women in a report which was released recently. Both Gemma and Anastasia were invited to join the commission, along with 15 other leading female CVD experts to provide recommendations on how to reduce the burden of the disease – which is the leading cause of death among women. “The Commission Report released in The Lancet (publication) is the result of three years of work to collect and collate the different sources of data and research as well as numerous regional parallel efforts underway to provide recommendations to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular disease in women by 2030,” Anastasia said. “It provides the starting point for a global strategy for call to action to mobilise and energise the many key stakeholders, health- care professionals, policy makers, and women

recommendations, and suggest actionable key initiatives to combat cardiovascular disease in women during the next decade.” The Commission aims to help reduce the global burden of cardiovascular conditions – including heart disease and stroke by 2030. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 35 per cent of deaths in women each year. High blood pressure is the greatest risk factor contributing to years of lost life from CVD in women, followed by high body mass index and high low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol. Gemma said while these well-established risk factors might affect women differently than men, there are sex-specific risk factors such as premature menopause and pregnancy related-disorders that must be more widely recognised and prioritised as part of treatment and prevention efforts worldwide. “This report lays out the gaps and challenges, and identifies strategies required to begin to improve the health of women’s hearts around the world,” she said. “The commissioners are committed to work with researchers from across the translational pipeline to unravel novel mechanisms, best prevention and treatment strategies, and to improve equitable access.”

NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 10 | 31 MAY 2021


website gets refresh While many staff were busy navigating the challenges of 2020, a small group of digital experts were working away at designing the new NSLHD website. The new NSLHD website was launched in January 2021 and is focused around our consumers and staff. The project began from a board led initiative, focused around improving our digital presence from consumer interviews and research across the district. “It was a lot of interesting debates, sketches, designs and coffee that made up the new website,” Web Services Manager Suriya Jeyapirakasam said. “What made the process most beneficial was utilising a design led approach – getting our consumers to test and design what they wanted was crucial in developing a design that solved their problems”. User Experience Lead on the project Dennis Singh said the way of working through the project created an ability for leaders to embrace the design philosophy. “What got us across the line was a design thinking process,” he said. “It shaped our understanding of their problems, generated ideas on solving them and prototyping and testing options that

Alan Wong, Dennis Singh and Suriya Jeyapirakasam (L-R)

they felt gave them the most help when needed.” Chief Executive Deb Willcox said she was thrilled to see the website’s new look, and she was not alone. “The team have done a stellar job in listening to the needs of consumers, patients and staff and turning that into a fantastic website,” she said. “The way it looks and its newfound functionality, including the ability to publish the good news coming out of our district with the click of a button, really takes this project to the next level.” If you have any questions regarding the new website or feedback about what you’d like to see, email NSLHD-Website-feedback@health. nsw.gov.au

New Prompt system: policies, procedures, guidelines hub Phase one of the Prompt document system will ‘go live’ in the coming weeks. The Prompt system will be the central ‘the right document at the right time’. In addition, the NSLHD documents have new headers and footers.

repository for all NSLHD Policies, Procedures and Guidelines (PPGs) and relevant NSW Health PPGs. Prompt will be accessible from the current Policy and Procedure Intranet page via the large paperclip icon. Searches can be conducted using key word/s or a more advanced search by department and/or section and/or document type. Location relevance is easily identifiable on the search page. All relevant information is displayed against each document title to facilitate staff locating

Staff training is underway and resources will be made available on the Policy and Procedure Intranet page including a short video on ‘how to search for documents’, instruction sheets and frequently asked questions. For further information please contact Annette.Penney@health.nsw.gov.au (National Safety and Quality Accreditation Manager) or Nitisha.Bangera@health.nsw.gov.au (Policy and Compliance Manager).



Champion of children retires after almost 40 years It was by chance in 1975 that Michael Zilibowitz stepped off a cruise ship where he was a young doctor on board to check out “this strange land Australia.” And it became the Northern Beaches fortune as the doctor went on to eventually have shared with me their fears, secrets and hopes,” he said. “For me, to help them and guide them and find a way forward and a path to a healthier better life – that’s rewarding.” Specialising in behavioural and developmental paediatric

Dr Con Papadopoulos, Dr Michael Zilibowitz, Dr Bruce Chenoworth and Dr Elisabeth Murphy

spend the next 38 years as a paediatrician, helping hundreds of families and their children. As he sets to retire in May, Michael reflected on his career which began in 1972 in the United Kingdom, but brought him to the shores of Australia, where he has worked tirelessly in championing the needs of children, supporting families and the community on the wellbeing and nurturing needs of children. “I feel really privileged to have been invited into the homes of families and children who trainees and junior specialists is being launched at NSLHD. FLASH – Fostering Leadership across Systems in Health – is a unique and innovative program for up and coming specialists that will combine formal teaching, coaching and practical experiences into monthly interactive workshops and education sessions. The Surgical Institute of Education, Research and Training (SERT) Institute, based at RNSH, is behind the leadership program being available to doctors across the district. SERT Manager Ellie McCann said she had been working

health issues, Michael has seen an increase of children and families seeking help over the decades as more present with mental health, behavioural and neurological conditions. He has been described by his colleagues as instrumental in the early endorsement and pioneering of the First 1000 days and now First 2000 days, where the relationship and wellbeing of a child from conception to five years old is crucial for their wellbeing later in life. Glover to partner with the WSLHD Research Education Network, University of Sydney and Sydney Health Partners to launch the new medical leadership program to ensure doctors can become the best leaders they can be. “Being a leader is not just about taking on official leadership roles or management positions. Good leadership has far- reaching implications across all components of our health systems, not only for high quality clinical outcomes, but also for excellence in research and educational outcomes,” Ellie said. “Doctors are trained to be good clinicians but are not

NSLHD Child, Youth and Family Director, Dr Elisabeth Murphy said: “Michael started at the time when there weren’t many issues about behavioural and development cases of children. It just wasn’t the level it is now.

“He has been a valuable pathfinder in this area of expertise.”

Michael, 72, is looking forward to travelling Arnhem Land and “not chasing the clock”.

FLASH - new course designed by doctors for doctors A new medical leadership course aimed at senior with Professor Tom Hugh and Associate Professor Anthony

explicitly taught how to be good leaders or mentors. The FLASH program will help them do this and has been designed to enhance a doctors’ skills and knowledge

that will assist them to become leaders in the healthcare system.”

FLASH is currently open for applications with a closing date of the 31 May 2021. Ten places have been secured and fully funded for the NSLHD in this inaugural program which will start in August 2021. For more information on FLASH please follow the link or contact Associate Professor Anthony Glover (NSLHD program lead) on email: anthony.glover@sydney. edu.au

NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 10 | 31 MAY 2021


Volunteers at Royal North Shore’s ceremony

THANK YOU TO OUR VOLUNTEERS Volunteers working across

Chief Executive Deb Willcox said it is wonderful to see so many volunteers back in our hospitals, supporting our staff and our patients, after what was such a disruptive and difficult year. “Our volunteers play such an important role in our hospitals including greeting our visitors and helping them get to where they need to go, helping our patients eat

their meals, through to the Pink Ladies and their delicious cake stalls,” Deb said “They are a familiar face to our staff, patient and visitors who are comforted their presence.” Ceremonies were held at Royal North Shore, Hornsby and Ryde hospitals to honour volunteers dedicating their time across Northern Sydney.

Northern Sydney Local Health District hospitals have been celebrated and their huge contribution recognised this month during National Volunteers Week. The COVID-19 restrictions meant our volunteers were unable to work in our hospitals for extended periods since the beginning of the pandemic.

Ryde Hospital volunteer Elaine Collis was awarded a certificate of appreciation for 46 years of volunteer service

RNS Hospital volunteer Rosemary Brodie was awarded a certificate of appreciation for 38 years of volunteer service

RNS Volunteer Coordinator Candice Peters with the Pink Ladies and CE Deb Willcox

Chairman gets on board Flu vaccine campaign Northern Sydney Local Health District Board Chair Trevor Danos AM recently visited our flu vaccination clinic at Royal North Shore Hospital to receive his jab. Trevor joins more than 4400 staff who have now received their flu vaccination. Staff in Category A+ and emergency department staff must receive their flu shot by the end of May to meet the NSW Health policy requirement.

You need to leave a 14-day break between the flu and other vaccinations, including for COVID-19 and bring your COVID-19 vaccination certificate and Medicare card when you present for your flu vaccination. If you have any questions, please contact NSLHDOccupationalStaffHealth@health.nsw.gov.au

Board Chair Trevor Danos AM receives his flu vac



Researchers to identify safer and more effective treatments for rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis

Kolling Institute researcher Professor Lyn March will lead a large, collaborative national trial to improve treatments for those with disabling rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. Federal Government Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) funding will see more than $2.7 million invested in the project which will involve 400 participants across the country. Professor March, who is the head of the Department of Rheumatology at Royal North Shore Hospital, has welcomed the funding saying there’s a need for more robust evidence around existing treatment approaches. “Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are autoimmune musculoskeletal diseases that can cause severe pain, joint destruction, disability and early death,” Lyn said. “Sadly there is no cure and while some people are able to achieve drug-free remission, the diseases often reoccur.” Existing treatments include the biologic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs, which suppress the overactive immune system. These medications have successfully improved people’s quality of life, but they come with risks of significant side effects, including serious infections. “Ideally, we would like to bring people off these medications when their symptoms subside, but there are no clear guidelines around the best time to do that, or how these therapies can be reduced and stopped,” she said. “Our study will aim to identify the best medication approaches towards achieving and maintaining drug free remission in as many patients as possible. We’ll be looking to confirm the safest, most effective and most economical treatment strategies.” Lyn said it was an important national trial which will involve prominent rheumatology

clinician researchers, leading scientists, economists and post-doctoral researchers from universities and hospitals across Australia. “We will also partner with the Australia and New Zealand Musculoskeletal Clinical Trials Network, the national Australian Arthritis and Autoimmune Biobank Collaborative (A3BC) registry/biobank network, and leading professional and consumer bodies,” she said. “The trial represents a wonderful collaborative opportunity to assist those with rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis manage their condition in the safest and most effective way. This will deliver long term health and economic benefits to individuals and the broader community.” The trial will be open to any Australian adult living with rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, providing they meet the criteria and have the disease well-controlled with a biologic medication. Recruitment is anticipated to begin later this year.


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

NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 10 | 31 MAY 2021


Bolstering our research capability through collaboration A new research seminar series launches this week to strengthen our research

expertise across the Northern Sydney Local Health District. The monthly series is a key initiative of the new Kolling Institute Research Strategy, aimed at expanding research opportunities, capability and innovation. The Kolling’s Acting Executive Director Professor Jim Elliott said the seminars will have a focus on networking, collaboration and career pathways, and will provide a forum for researchers, clinicians and the community to discuss joint opportunities and offer peer support. “This is an important new series which will feature national and international speakers, as well as early and mid-career researchers,” he said.

collaborative projects, which take advantage of particular strengths from teams, individuals and organisations.” NSLHD physiotherapist Dr Sally Wootton and Associate Professor Zoe Mckeough will present at the first event, discussing their unique project to support people with chronic respiratory disease with a home-based rehabilitation program. This successful collaboration, between NSLHD and the

University of Sydney, is providing evidenced-based healthcare through new technology to people who can’t access this support. The inaugural Kolling Research Seminar will be held on Tuesday 1 June at the Kolling Institute, Kerry Goulston room, Level 5 from 12-1pm. If you can’t join in person, please log on via https://

“The seminars will highlight the significant benefits of uni-sydney.zoom. us/j/89806713032 New medical imaging system launches in district Ryde, Hornsby and Mona Vale hospitals have gone live with the Radiology RIS-PACS go live at Hornsby Hospital

Information System and Picture Archiving and Communication System (RIS-PACS) solution. The tool allows medical imaging departments to manage their services, including enhanced diagnostic services, with easy and quick access to images and results, allowing clinicians to make timely decisions regarding patient care. “I am incredibly proud of the work that has been done by the district teams, it has been a incredible collaborative team effort across the two districts, eHealth NSW and vendor teams” A/Director Information Communications & Technology, Ann Mirapuri said. “The feedback has been very positive and I know the team has worked hard to get the three sites up and running in the same period.”

Royal North Shore Hospital will be the final site to go live on Tuesday 1 June. For more information, please visit the RIS- PACS intranet page, or for those requiring assistance, please call 9926 4600 during the first two weeks of go-live.



RNSH team contributes to Clinical Trial of the Year award A team from RNSH has been an integral part of a research project which has been named a dual winner of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance Trial of the Year award.

The Australian ProPSMA study evaluated the effectiveness of a new imaging technique (PSMA PET/CT) to detect prostate cancer. Of the 10 sites nationally that recruited to the multicentre trial, RNSH was the only site involved in Sydney, and one of only two sites in NSW. Head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine A/Professor Paul Roach welcomed the award, saying it highlights the clinical trials expertise at RNSH in the field of imaging and our role in lifting clinical standards and patient outcomes. “The trial, which involved 300 men who had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer, used a new technique called PSMA PET/CT, which detects small sites of tumour spread that may not be captured with conventional imaging, such as CT and bone scans,” he said. Each participant had a whole-body 3D scan using a radioactive substance that detects prostate cancer cells. This was then followed by a PET/CT scan that produced detailed images of the cancer spread. “Importantly, the trial found the new imaging technique had an accuracy of 92 per cent compared to 65 per cent with conventional imaging,” he said. “This was an encouraging result which has

A/Professor Paul Roach and Dr Chung Mo Koo

already informed a new standard of care for the assessment of men with prostate cancer. “Our trial has directly influenced clinical practice and improved outcomes for a large number of men. “Prostate cancer is a silent disease, often without symptoms in the early stages of the disease. “Accurate imaging is therefore crucial to detect the cancer as early as possible and determine the best treatment plan. “We are really pleased to have been involved in this successful project, and honoured to be a part of this important study which was a dual winner of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance Trial of the Year award.” Australian Clinical Trials Alliance Board Chair Professor John Zalcberg said the winning projects demonstrate the exceptionally high calibre of trials currently being led by Australia’s clinical researchers.

Prestigious awards for two RNSH anaesthetists Two Royal North Shore doctors have been bestowed honour by the Australian and New Zealand College Of Anaesthetists (ANZCA). Dr Adam Rehak was named the Steuart Henderson Award recipient, which is awarded to a fellow who has

demonstrated excellence and provided outstanding contribution, scholarship, and mentorship to medical education in the field of anaesthesia and/or pain medicine.

Dr Adam Rehak

Dr Chris Sparks

Dr Chris Sparks received the Ray Hader Award which recognises compassion and a focus on the welfare of anaesthetists, other

colleagues, patients and the community. Congratulations to Chris and Adam on their achievement.

NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 10 | 31 MAY 2021


Gus tending to patient Nancy Mann at Mona Vale Hospital

Say G’day to Gus, the district’s newest therapy dog Northern Sydney’s animal assisted therapy team has a new recruit - with Gus joining his

Palliative Care, we are hoping that his role will extend to encompass more of the campus as he develops in his new role. “Gus always welcomes pats, and treats, from everyone and loves nothing more than chasing the sun and snoozing. “Thank you Guide Dogs NSW for the opportunity to have him as part of team Mona Vale.” Herbie’s owner and Trauma Counsellor Andrea Turner said said implementing another dedicated therapy dog in the district as a permanent staff member was an important step for progressing health initiatives and outcomes.

half-brother Herbie in the line of duty. The pair plays an important role across a range of services, including counselling and palliative care. Herbie usually can be found in the child protection team at Royal North Shore Hospital, while Gus calls Mona Vale Hospital home. “Gus has been a very welcome addition to Mona Vale, working with patients and staff on a daily basis,” Gus’ owner and Acting Head of Department for Social Work Sarah Galloway said. “Whilst Gus works predominantly across

Gus, Deb Willcox and Herbie

Theodore Panagopoulos greets Herbie and Gus



Planning for pregnancy? Or have given birth and live in the Northern Sydney Local Health District? Having a baby? Be part of our maternity services survey so we can find out how best to deliver health services and care for our patients. The survey is anonymous.

To have your say

Visit https://qars.cec. health.nsw.gov.au/ Survey?p=35B5045 or scan the QR code below

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