NSLHD News March 12

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


CAncer research and treatment takes centre stage Staff from across the district’s cancer services showcased their work in cancer treatment, research and patient care at the latest instalment of Northern Lights.

Read more on Page 6

international women’s day celebrated across nslhd Page 3

kolling study: combatting fraility Page 4

Leaders in healthcare, partners in wellbeing


Message FROM the acting Chief executive Dr Tamsin Waterhouse

message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox

As our response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation continues I thank you all for your ongoing commitment to our patients, community and each other. Staff have been working incredibly hard to find and respond to COVID-19 cases as they are diagnosed to slow any spread in the community. There is a lot of activity in our hospitals and services to ensure we manage containment of the virus to protect you and your patients. I appreciate this is at times challenging, your ongoing professionalism and understanding is very much appreciated A great deal of planning has also been undertaken to ensure we are prepared for increased demand on our services. Our district has seen a number of cases and it has been a particularly challenging time for our colleagues at Ryde Hospital who are showing outstanding resilience. All of you have been working incredibly hard continuing to provide excellent care to our patients. We will continue to take every precaution to keep staff, patients and our community safe. Many of you would have seen media reports about the passing of a man in his 80s and a 95-year-old woman at Ryde Hospital who both had tested positive to COVID-19. Our thoughts and sympathies are with their families at this very sad time. I would like to thank staff who provided safe and compassionate care to both of these patients. I appreciate these events will be unsettling and I would like to reassure you

that every measure is being taken to keep you and your patients safe. As a precaution a number of staff who are considered close contacts to COVID-19 cases at Ryde Hospital have been sent home to self-quarantine and we continue to provide daily welfare checks. A number of these staff have already returned to work after their period of isolation. The use of PPE is being closely monitored to make sure we have ample supplies. We must ensure there is fair and appropriate distribution. We strongly encourage you to work with us as we manage our supply going forward so our staff and patients can be protected from the virus. District Director of Infection Prevention and Control Jo Tallon and a team of experts have spent the past week visiting hospitals providing advice and reassurance on how to provide safe care to patients while protecting yourselves. This will continue over the coming weeks to ensure you are supported. Please speak to your line manger if you need any additional support or advice and see the NSW Ministry of Health website for the latest advice and information here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/ diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx I would like to thank you all for your ongoing commitment and for continuing to look after our patients during these challenging times. Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District


INTERNATIONAL Women’s day at nslhd Staff have celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) across the District and recognised this year’s theme Each for Equal, based on the idea that an equal world is an enabled world.

Stalls were held at Royal North Shore, Hornsby, Mona Vale, Macquarie and Ryde hospitals to mark the occasion and encouraged staff to have their say and help develop a District wide strategy to enhance workplace culture. Chief Executive Deb Wilcox said this year’s theme encourages people to think about challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, broadening perceptions, improving situations and continuing to celebrate women’s achievements. “The vast majority of our workforce are incredible women who contribute so much every day for our patients, consumers and The exclusive focussed on the machine’s use of artificial intelligence and adaptive radiotherapy to treat cancer more accurately without having to spend days or weeks in planning. “It’s the first time artificial intelligence is being used at point of care for radiotherapy,” said Dr Jeremy Booth, Head of Medical Physics. The hospital is the first in the Asia Pacific to use the technology called the Ethos (Adaptive) Linear Accelerator. The machine will be used on patients with pelvis-related cancers, head and neck tumours and palliative patients. Because the new system is adaptive through its inbuilt artificial intelligence, planning time

Hornsby staff celebrating IWD

the local community,” she said.

“We all need to think about how our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on society not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.”

“We have a responsibility to make everyone feel included and supported.”

RNS home to new artificial intelligence technology Royal North Shore Hospital latest radiotherapy machine took centre stage on Channel 9 News Sydney last week.

Dr Booth interviewed by Channel 9 News’ National Medical and Research Reporter Gabriella Rogers

is reduced, therapy sessions are faster, and the beam fields are reduced so patients are not exposed to as much radiation. Later in the year, doctors also hope to remove the need for patients to wear masks and be tattooed. To view the story, head to the Royal North Shore Hospital Facebook page or www. nslhd.health.nsw.gov.au.



Multiple medications cause frailtY, reversal possible A world-first study by a team from the Kolling Institute may inform the future use of multiple

medications by older people, minimising adverse impacts including frailty. The longitudinal research is the first preclinical study to demonstrate that multiple medications can impair function in old age, and that stopping some can reduce harm. Research lead, Professor Sarah Hilmer, said until now there’s been uncertainty about whether it’s the number of drugs, the type or the dose of drugs, and whether these effects are reversible once the medications are stopped. Our research, conducted by Dr John Mach with a team of local, national and international scientists, applied rigorous methods in ageing biology and biostatistics to measure the impact of multiple medications in old age. “For the first time, we found that multiple medications increased frailty and impaired function, and interestingly, it was not the number of drugs, but the type and dose of medications that caused the adverse outcomes, said Prof Hilmer, Head of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at RNSH Covid-19 update Find the Facts

Professor Sarah Hilmer and Dr John Mach

and Uni of Sydney Conjoint Professor of Geriatric Pharmacology,” Prof Hilmer said. “We also found that the adverse effects on frailty and function reduced after stopping the medications. What the study means “This research provides the critical evidence required to inform a medication review in our ageing population, not just in Australia, but also internationally. “We now know which mix of medications cause frailty and reduce independence in old age, and that these effects are reversible once

the medications are stopped. “As a geriatrician, this gives me the evidence I need to optimise medications for my older patients. I can be confident about which drug exposures are exacerbating frailty, and weigh those risks against any potential benefits. “It also means that I know their function and independence are likely to improve by withdrawing medications.” The three-year international study has been published in the Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences. Feeling Unwell? If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of overseas travel or after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19, please attend a COVID-19 Clinic or call your GP or Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Frequently Asked Questions can be accessed here: www. health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/ alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs. aspx. If you have further any questions, you can also call the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080.


Last year’s Quality and Improvement Award winners

NOMINATIONS OPEN: QUALITY AND IMPROVEMENT AWARDS Following the success of the inaugural NSLHD Quality and • Keeping People Healthy

have made a real difference to the patients and families we care for. “You are such an impressive and inspiring group of people who achieve so much every day in the work that you do, and I want to share your achievements, dedication and skill with the broader community,” she said. Entry forms and further information can be found here: http://intranet. nslhd.health.nsw.gov. au/ClinicalNet/cgu/QI/ QualityAwards/Pages/ NSLHD-Quality-Awards.aspx Award applications are due by 9 April.

Improvement Awards last year, applications are now open for 2020. The awards celebrate the excellence of the District’s nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, support staff and researchers. There are 10 award categories, which have changed slightly from last year: • Patients as Partners • Delivering Integrated Care • Excellence in Supporting Services

• A Safe Workplace • Quality and Safety • Excellence in

supporting the mental health of our patients and consumers

• Local Solutions • Health Research • Patient Experience

Chief Executive Deb Wilcox said the district is committed to achieving excellence and the awards put a spotlight on this, as well as the hard work and the delivery of programs and services which

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.




The presenters and cancer services team at the start of Northern Lights

Shining a light on cancer treatment and research The latest in cancer treatment, research and patient care

However, it was patient representative Tanya Beach who fittingly got proceedings underway, detailing her cancer journey to date. Director of Cancer Services Professor Alexander Engel outlined the day, which featured presentations from Cancer Centre Nurse Manager Rowena Broadbent, Clinical Nurse Consultant Stephanie Smith, Drs Fiona Robinson, Anthony Jeffrey, Malinda Itchins, Jeremy Booth, Anthoulla Mohamudally and David Chan and Professor Dale Bailey.

All up, more than 80 staff and patients attended, with many more tuning into the showcase via live stream. Videos of the day’s proceedings will be available online shortly. Look out for the next Northern Lights showcase, with presentations from the stroke team lead by Dr Martin Krauss.

took centre stage at the latest instalment of Northern Lights showcase event. The event series has been developed to shine a light on outstanding research and innovation across the district. Staff from across the Cancer Centre came together to showcase their work, with presentations on topics from clinical redesign, to workplace culture, palliative care; as well as artificial intelligence.


GEnetic breakthrough offers hope for women with rare, deadly condition

Pregnancy induced heart failure is a compli- cation of pregnancy that threatens the lives of around 200 new Australian mothers each year, but a team from the Kolling Institute is leading new research to identify and treat women at risk of the condition. Known as Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, the rare disease weakens the heart muscle during pregnancy. Dr Anthony Ashton said it is a complex con- dition, with the three different types of preg- nancy induced heart failure contributing to three very different outcomes. “Around a third of women impacted will re- cover following the birth of their child, while a large share will manage with medication for the rest of their lives,” Dr Ashton said. “Some women however, will have a 20 per cent chance of dying within five years or re- quire a life-saving heart transplant.” Researchers at the Kolling are offering re- newed hope with the team identifying the gene signatures linked to the condition. “This has been a breakthrough discovery and has paved the way towards improved diagno- sis and ultimately treatment,” he said.

Dr Anthony Ashton

“With this new understanding of the genetic influences, we are now working to develop a test to help us identify women with the con- dition and treat it before it becomes deadly. “A greater knowledge of the genetics will also allow us to develop specific therapeu- tic breakthroughs for the different types of pregnancy induced heart failure, improving survival and maternal health. “The disease can have a devastating impact on women and their families, so we’re en- couraged by the recent advances and opti- mistic improved treatment will be offered in the years ahead.”

New nurses at their orientation

A Warm welcome to our new grad nurses The first intake of graduate nurses for 2020 have started at Northern Sydney Local Health District.

Gathered at Royal North Shore for orientation, the graduates will then be welcomed at Hornsby ( 22), Mona Vale (5), Ryde (18), RNSH (89), Mental Health Drug and Alcohol (34), Medical Imaging (2), and Community Health (12).

This year 182 trainee nurses will join our hospitals and services and will work in ICU, ED, general surgical, mental health and midwifery.



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