NSLHD News April 16

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


Main story Short blurb april falls month taff across the district are celebrating April Falls Month to promote falls prevention for all patients and raise awareness amongst staff.

Read more on Page x Read more on Page 7

researchers secure highly competitive funding Page 5

paediatricians trekking for mental health Page 6


Message from Acting chief executive Dr Tamsin Waterhouse

Progress continues to be made in vaccinating staff against COVID-19 with more than 70 per cent of our workforce having received at least their first dose of vaccination - either with the Pfizer vaccine at the Westmead hub or the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Hornsby hub. The recent updated advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) temporarily paused our delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccination program at Hornsby while the informed consent information provided was updated, but we soon recommenced for those over 50. For the small number of staff under 50 who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine, we are making arrangements to offer the Pfizer vaccine (now preferred for this age group) as soon as possible. Thank you to all our hardworking staff for your adaptability regarding the updated advice, and thank you to everyone coming forward to get your vaccinations. I strongly encourage those who can be vaccinated to get your protection from the virus as soon as you can. The 2021 staff flu vaccination program is also now underway. Last year we had a fantastic response from staff in what was to become a record year with more than 8800 NSLHD staff getting vaccinated. I look forward to seeing strong numbers again this year. Staff can get the flu vaccination two weeks after their second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and staff who have received the Astra Zeneca vaccine can have their flu shot as long as there is a two week gap between all vaccinations. For more information, please visit the Intranet here. At NSLHD reflecting the community

we provide care to is so important and we are committed to taking steps to strengthen the diversity and inclusion of our workplace culture. That is why we have established a variety of employee networks in which our staff can actively participate. Our newest employee-led network, the Women in Leadership network, is sponsored by our Chief Executive Deb Willcox and aims to provide a collaborative, safe space to capture and to amplify the voices of women and those who identify as female. Staff are encouraged to get involved in this network and you can get more information by contacting NSLHD- ODTeam@health.nsw.gov.au. Finally, I would like to remind you nominations are still open for the Quality and Improvement Awards. I know there are lots of impressive projects underway across our district which have made, and continue to make, a real difference to patients and their families. The awards allow us to showcase this inspiring work. If you or your team have a project that has improved outcomes for patients, consumers or staff, you have until April 30 to submit your application through the NSLHD intranet here.

Dr Tamsin Waterhouse Acting Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



covid-19 vaccination update More than 70 per cent of staff have now received at least their first COVID-19 vaccination with many now preparing themselves for their second dose. Some of our staff who have received their vaccination at Hornsby have shared their selfies (see below). We are still implementing the vaccination program in line with the Australian Government’s advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine. Following the new advice from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), informed consent information has been updated to provide patients and those administering the AstraZeneca

vaccine with the latest information. ATAGI recommends that all adults are vaccinated against COVID-19. As vaccines become available, NSW Health continues to urge all our staff who can be vaccinated to do so. People under 50 who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine first dose without serious side effects should feel confident to complete the course with the second dose. For those who have not yet commenced a course of vaccine, NSW Health is working to have everyone vaccinated as soon as possible.

New video highlights disaster response The Northern Sydney Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol team has developed an exciting new training video on Disaster Response Teams (DRT) and their role. Before the pandemic, a number of staff

were deployed to Bega Valley after bushfires ravaged the area during the horror 2019-20 bushfires. The video explores the experiences the DRT had while on the ground helping those who had been impacted by the fires. While all have since returned to their role within the district, the video reflects on the efforts, camaraderie and learnings many had during their time. This is the first in a suite of disaster training videos NSLHD MHDA is developing.

You can watch the video by visiting: bit. ly/3cQh4Fd



Aboriginal Health Service: meet our newest team members We recently sat down with new staff members in the Aboriginal Health Service team to find out about their roles and what they are focused on for the year ahead. The team works across the district and advocates for better health outcomes through the implementation of policies and local strategic health plans.

Gillian Adidi, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Manager “My role is to attract, recruit and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff across the district. “We need to create more employment opportunities and have developed a talent pool to attract people from the community who are interested in working at NSW Health, especially in our district. “My aim is to create identified and targeted positions with vacancies, to match with talent pool applicants. “This will assist our district to provide culturally safe work environments and also assist in providing the best possible health outcomes for our mob.”

Adam Cryer, Project Manager, Community Inclusion and Capacity Building “My role involves providing the local Aboriginal community with opportunities to work with support services on how they can increase their engagement with, and their capacity to, service our mob in the district. “One of the big things we want to do is map out hidden community because we know there are a lot of Aboriginal people across the Northern Sydney region who aren’t connecting with services. “We want to raise awareness of what services are out there and what they need to better engage with our communities. “I am really looking forward to getting back in touch with the community and mob.” Melinda Flower, Aboriginal Liaison Officer

“I am a Torres Strait Islander (Miriam) and Aboriginal (Kalkadoon) woman, who has extensive experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, in both health and education. “My role involves visiting patients and providing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural support and advocacy. “In addition, I am also available to work with staff in implementing culturally safe service delivery. “I love working at NSLHD. The staff are brilliant. It’s a wonderful place to work.”

Mervyn Holmes-Wighton, Aboriginal Population Health Trainee “I am taking part in a three year NSW Health traineeship. I am also studying a Masters of Public Health at UNSW. “I was uncertain as to where I wanted to be in my career. I was working as a registered nurse for three years before I applied for this position. “I would like to specialise and eventually become a nurse practitioner and service rural and remote communities. “I am from Condobolin, so I understand there’s significant disadvantages with being in a rural and remote community. “I think it would be beneficial to be an advocate for that population and provide support to my fellow community members.”



researchers secure highly competitive national funding Two of the district’s leading researchers will drive key Australian projects following

those at risk of coronary artery disease so they can receive preventative treatment, similar to that received by those with the traditional risk factors.

a funding announcement from the National Health and Medical Research Council. (NHMRC) More than $1.4 million from the partnership grant program will go to Kolling researcher and RNSH interventional cardiologist Professor Gemma Figtree and her team for a study to reduce coronary artery disease. The world-first project will receive an additional $2 million from industry and health partners. Gemma and her team will assess a new way to identify the risk of coronary artery disease - the most common form of heart disease which can lead to heart attacks. Gemma said the current assessment is based on the well-documented risk factors of smoking, hypertension, diabetes and high blood cholesterol. However, between 15 and 30 per cent of people who experience a heart attack don’t have these traditional risk factors, so a new early detection test, called a polygenic risk score has been developed. “As part of our research, we will be providing some robust data to measure the effectiveness of this new test using genetic markers to predict heart health,” she said. “If it proves effective, we anticipate the new early warning test will directly inform clinical guidelines and government policy. “It will help us identify

Professor Gemma Figtree with Dr Steve Vernon from the research team

“We anticipate this approach will reduce heart attacks and prevent deaths.” An NHMRC partnership grant of $1.5 million will also go towards a study to improve the safety and quality of emergency nursing care. More than $3.6 million will be granted in total. The NSLHD’s Nursing and Midwifery Director of Research Professor Margaret Fry will help lead the national project, examining a standardised assessment and management approach for all emergency care nurses. Margaret said the evidenced-based system is needed with more than eight million people attending Australia’s 287 emergency departments each year. “Emergency nurses are the first and sometimes only clinicians that patients see, so the quality of this initial assessment and ongoing treatment is vital. Patient safety is contingent on accurate assessment, intervention and escalation,” she said.

manage their patients, so the research will examine the HIRAID system, a validated framework developed by the research team. “More than 30 NSW, Victorian and Queensland hospitals will be involved in the trial over the next five years, and if this approach proves effective, it’s likely to be adopted not only in Australia but internationally as well, across Fiji, Sri Lanka and Nepal. “We are anticipating a positive response, and expect the training will lead to a 20 per cent reduction in inpatient deterioration events and an increase in patients reporting a good ED experience.”

“There is currently no standardised way that Australia’s 29,000 emergency nurses are taught to assess and

Professor Margaret Fry



Trekking for mental health and wellbeing Seven paediatricians have

gone from walking the wards to combing the coast as part of the Sydney Coastrek. The group, made up of seven from Royal North Shore Hospital and one from Bankstown Hospital – participated in the 30 kilometre walk from Long Reef to Middle Head to help raise much needed funds for Beyond Blue. Together, the two teams of four women raised $5840, with all walkers combining for a mammoth total of more than $1.6 million for Beyond Blue. Dr Carola Wittekind said it was rewarding but also a tough trek, even if they managed to dodge the deluge of rain. “The trek was not without

(Left to right): Helen Goodwin, Carola Wittekind, Bronwyn Chan, Katrina Doyle, Hemani Sharma, Jo Smuk, Penny Uther and Helen Young

challenges but together we got through, including climbing the endless stairs up to Middle Head Road right at the end,” she said. “By now sore muscles and feet have recovered and the few blisters have healed and only great memories remain.” Carola thanked those who supported the teams, including Dr Eveline Staub, who served up home baked muffins and tea on little Manly

Beach. “I would also like to thank our male colleagues Eric Chung and Hugh Allen for ‘holding the fort’ at RNSH while we were out trekking,” she said. “All of us know the difficulties of going through personal challenges. It was a privilege to experience firsthand the wonderful benefits of physical activity in the company of good friends in nature.”

Virtual Challenge raiseS Funds for Mental Health Services Last year the NORTH Foundation ran the inaugural Conquer Kokoda From year has highlighted the importance of mental

Home is a great way to keep fit and stay connected with family, friends and colleagues while supporting the mental health of members in our community. “For those who can’t join but have family or friends who might be interested, please spread the word!” Funds raised will support mental health research and patient care services across the NSLHD. To find out more, visit https://conquer-kokoda- from-home-2021.raisely.com/

wellbeing and the need for healthcare services in this area. The challenge, which will take place throughout April, involves completing a 96-kilometre virtual trek, over 8, 12, or 16 days, from Kokoda to Owners Corner by running or walking a set number of kilometres per day. Jessica Andrews, NORTH Foundation Community and Grants Fundraising Officer, said: “Conquer Kokoda From

Home virtual challenge to raise funds for our local hospitals and front-line healthcare workers tackling COVID-19. This April, the virtual challenge is being launched to encourage people to stay connected and healthy while also supporting our hospitals’ mental health services. The impact of physical distancing, isolation, and uncertainty over the past



april falls month This April Falls Day and Month the Northern Sydney Local Health District Health Promotion team encourages people to get physically active, eat healthy, and reconnect with their social networks and community. NSLHD Falls Prevention Coordinator Margaret Armstrong said it may be an amusing play on words but the annual state-wide April Falls Day (Thursday 1 April) and April Falls Month are serious business. “The purpose of these events is to promote falls prevention for all patients and assist at risk people to stay healthy and fall-free in the community,” Margaret said. Following a year that has encouraged people to physically isolate, this year’s theme is Safe Activity for Everybody. “This encourages people to get physically active, eat six month milestone of zero falls resulting in serious injury (SAC 2). Over the last two years, staff have been working hard to implement strategies to prevent patient falls and Ryde’s Falls Coordinator Jennifer Piggott said that hard work is paying off. “Not having any falls resulting in serious injury is a huge deal for our hospital as it means our fall prevention strategies are working,” Jennifer said.

(Left to right): Lisa Steele, Grace Song, Simon Dugiud and Margaret Armstrong

healthy diets, and reconnect with their social networks and community, while highlighting the importance of participating in these activities safely,” Margaret said. “A key part of our strategy this year is to promote safe and healthy habits. We are encouraging participation in a 3 x 3 healthy ageing, 30 day challenge for staff, patients, carers and those in our community. Each day throughout April, participants are encouraged

to engage in physical and social activities, and eat three healthy meals.” To access the April ‘3 x 3 Challenge’ calendar, visit the April Falls Site on the Intranet. Staff can also download the campaign flyers for April Falls Month 2021, and other falls prevention resources on the same Intranet site. For further information contact Margaret.Armstrong@ health.nsw.gov.au.

ryde’s falls prevention success Coinciding with April Falls Day and Month celebrations, Ryde Hospital recently reached its

(Left to right): Claire O’Reagan, Margaret Armstrong and Jennifer Piggott

To celebrate April Falls Day, Jennifer, clinical nurse consultant Sandra Lever, and enrolled nurse Claire O’Reagan set up a kiosk in

the foyer with flyers and information, and handed out some prizes throughout the day, to raise awareness amongst staff.


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



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