NSLHD News August 12 2022

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


Main story pregnancy resource launched The booklet will provide support throughout pregnancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be and their families. Page 7 Short blurb Read more on Page x

professor bruce robinson appointed chair of research Page 5

Apac rebrands to hospital in the home Page 9


Our district has been fortunate to make two prestigious appointments recently which will have lasting impact on our research success and ultimately improve the care we provide. I would like to congratulate Professor Bruce Robinson on being appointed the inaugural NSLHD Chair of Research. Bruce will step into the newly created role this month, bringing a tremendous wealth of research, clinical and policy experience with him. As we look to increase the impact of our research, Bruce will seek to identify new opportunities for collaboration with key research partners. Importantly, he will also be working to ensure our research increasingly influences national and international health policy and practice. He joins Professor Jim Elliott who has been appointed the Kolling Institute’s Academic Director. As a Professor of Allied Health in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney and Northern Sydney Local Health District, Jim is highly respected across the national and international research community. I look forward to following the continued success of the Kolling Institute and I have no doubt Jim’s leadership and experience will be highly valued. It was a privilege to attend the launch of ‘Tiny Feet, Big Journeys– A Guide for Pregnant Women and their Families’ recently. The new booklet will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be and their families across the district with information they need to successfully navigate their pregnancy. I am sure it will be an invaluable resource that has been produced by Northern

Sydney LHD Nursing and Midwifery Directorate, Maternal, Neonatal and Women’s Health Network and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service. Nominations are now open for our 2022 Exceptional People Awards. The awards recognise individuals, teams and volunteers who go above and beyond every day to make a difference for the benefit of their colleagues, patients and consumers. I know the challenges you have all been facing as we continue to respond to COVID-19 and the winter flu season, which is why it is so important that our staff are recognised through these awards. Nominations can be submitted by staff, volunteers and consumer advocates, and also by our patients and consumers. To find out more and submit a nomination, please visit the awards webpage here: www.bit. ly/3BPTxBc Speaking of awards, two of our incredible nurses have been named as finalists in this year’s state Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards. A huge congratulations to Matthew Weiss from Ryde Hospital who is a finalist for the New to Practice Nurse/Midwife of the Year, and Barbara Scott, also from Ryde, who is a finalist for the Healing Heart Award for exceptional care. All of our nurses and midwives are incredible and I wish Matthew and Barbara all the best when the winners will be announced later this year.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Geoff Yates has been hard at work preparing for the City2Surf

RAISING FUNDS FOR THE UNIQUE AYAH Geoff Yates is so dedicated to his new role as the

there is a lot of scope to provide innovative ‘nice to haves’ funded by generous benefactors and community fund-raising. “Creating and nurturing our teams are my primary focus,” Geoff, who is helping lead ongoing recruitment for the AYAH, said. “I want to ensure the team I work with are valued, respected and empowered from the start, so we can deliver positive outcomes for our patients, families and carers. “I have already met many people who have been so supportive and equally enthusiastic about the AYAH and what it will mean for improving the quality of life for the patients in our care.”

“Geoff brings such a positive energy and enthusiasm to the team,” she said. “With his passion and drive, come many good ideas for the AYAH.” More positions at the AYAH are being recruited in the coming months, including nurse specialists and educators, registered nurses, enrolled nurses, assistants in nursing, allied health and pharmacy, health managers, cleaning, catering, and more. Expressions of interest in the AYAH talent pool for upcoming opportunities can be registered here: https:// bit.ly/3zlvZkM

nurse unit manager with the unique Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice (AYAH), he’s donning his runners to prove it. The AYAH, an Australian-first service opening later this year, will support teenagers and young adults from across NSW with life-limiting illnesses and their families. Geoff is running this Sunday’s City2Surf from Sydney CBD to Bondi, including tackling the notorious ‘Heartbreak Hill’ section of the iconic 14km run, to raise funds for the AYAH. “Our patients, their families and our service deserve the best we can provide for them so I thought something good could come from me doing the City2Surf,” Geoff said. “I’m definitely not as fit as I used to be, but it’s a chance to improve and maintain my own physical and mental health. Every step will help raise vital funds and awareness for the AYAH.” Based at the former Manly Hospital site, the AYAH will be a homelike environment for adolescents and young adults with life-limiting illnesses. With on-going funding from public funds for key clinical services,

Currently based at Mona Vale Hospital while AYAH’s construction is completed, Geoff has established a fundraising page to encourage people to donate via the NORTH Foundation. You can visit the page by visiting https://bit.ly/ Geoff-Fundraiser. Mona Vale Hospital Director of Nursing Kyla Smith said Geoff, who has 25 years’ experience in nursing, was a great asset to the AYAH.



Team ‘Stayin’ Alive’ - Nicole Owers, Neil Hepple, Zanelle Dube and Maura Desmond

STEPtember returns for 2022 steppers Registrations for STEPtember are now open for steppers across the district.

“We really love the opportunity to fly the flag and raise awareness for CPA and the benefits they offer to both the research into reduction of cerebral palsy but also to benefit those who have cerebral palsy to live their best life,” he said. Neil offered some advice for those contemplating whether to take part or not, saying that steps can be easy to accumulate across everyday activities. “Lots of activities translate into steps using the conversion scale - gardening, pushing the pram, house work, gym sessions and many more,” he said. There are a

STEPtember is a month long fundraising event conducted by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) which aims to support a wide range of initiatives involving those living with cerebral palsy. Steppers can take part in STEPtember individually or as part of a team, with the aim of hitting a daily goal of steps to encourage donations. NSLHD’s top individual fundraiser for 2021 was Sarah Doran, who works as an education support officer, Sydney Clinical Skills & Simulation Centre. Sarah said her motivation for taking part was seeing her friends and their children receive support from the CPA. “I have two close friends who have children with cerebral palsy,” she said. “The ongoing support and funding the CPA provide the children and their families is incredible.” Neil Hepple is a senior organisational development partner on the NSLHD Violence Prevention and Management Training team and was a member of the top stepping team in the district last year, ‘Stayin’ Alive’. Neil said his team has been inspired to participate by the CPA and the work it is doing for those living with cerebral palsy.

number of prizes to be won across the district for the highest steppers and largest fundraisers. Teams and individuals across NSLHD can join by visiting https://bit.ly/join- nswhealth2022 and selecting the NSLHD service or department that applies.

NSLHD’s highest fundraiser for 2021, Sarah Doran

SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS Share your news and achievements. Contact the Media and Communications team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD-media@health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.



Professor Bruce Robinson

High-profile clinician recruited to key research position Professor Bruce Robinson has been

business, and his extraordinary contribution has been recognised with a host of awards, including a prestigious Companion of the Order of Australia. “Bruce will bring a unique perspective to the position and will work to ensure our research increasingly influences national and international health policy and practice.” Professor Robinson said he was excited to move into the role and was looking forward to building on the existing research strengths across the campus. “Initially, I’ll be consulting with a large number of our research community to confirm our areas of expertise and identify a unifying theme for the district,” he said. “This will be an important step towards cementing our place as a district of research excellence, where evidenced-based projects inform and improve the delivery of our care. “As we work to raise our profile, I would like to see greater community involvement and engagement in our research so that our projects reflect the needs of the broader community. “I would also like to see greater connection with Sydney Health Partners to maximise the benefits of the partnership for our district. “Strengthening our internal and external collaborations will be key to our research progress. By leveraging these partnerships, our research team will be better placed to increase the impact of their work and improvements in healthcare.”

appointed the NSLHD Chair of Research in an important step towards strengthening research expertise across the district. Bruce will step into the newly created role this month, bringing a tremendous wealth of research, clinical and policy experience with him. Bruce will be responsible for providing leadership and strategic advice, while also driving the implementation of the NSLHD Research Strategy and other major research projects across NSLHD hospitals and services. Chief Executive Deb Willcox welcomed the appointment saying, Bruce will be charged with delivering innovation across NSLHD as well as the broader research community. “I would like to thank Bruce for taking on this important new role and for sharing his expertise to bolster our research success. Ultimately, it will improve the care we provide,” she said. “There are few people with Bruce’s credentials. He has had a clinical, research, academic and executive career spanning more than three decades and is highly respected across the national and international community. “As a leading endocrinologist at RNSH, Bruce has influenced clinical care practices, led large-scale research projects, and informed national health programs. “He has held a large number of senior positions across health, academia and



Funding paves the way for crucial new research programs A large collection of research projects will get underway at RNSH following generous funding through the Ramsay Research Grants Program. The scheme has directed more than $10 million to research on the campus over the last 19 years. lifelong benefits by preventing irreversible damage.” Researchers will also launch a study to gain a better understanding of the perception of the medical forensic examination following a recent sexual assault.

This will be from the point of view of patients who attend the district’s sexual assault service, victim-survivors who may not have presented to a service and the general population. Principal investigator Dr Mary Stewart said with sexual assault reports increasing, it is more important than ever that we ensure we are providing the care that victim-survivors need and that there’s a greater awareness of the services provided. “We hope to demonstrate the benefits of presenting for a health response after sexual assault, including the medical and psychosocial care and an optional forensic service. We also aim to identify the barriers to presenting after sexual assault so that these can be addressed.” A further study will assess a digital behavioural pain management intervention to improve pain relief and reduce a reliance on opioids in patients with rib fractures. Director of Acute Pain Services Associate Professor Damien Finniss said opioids are a key component of acute pain management, yet there are risks associated with over- reliance, particularly when patients transition from hospital to the community. “We know that patients who engage with behavioural pain management strategies have improved pain relief and show reduced reliance on opioids, so we expect that this low- cost intervention will help patients with pain transition more safely to the community.”

This year over $700,000 is being invested in a total of 14 innovative studies, all aimed at improving our research impact and the care delivered to our community. A diverse range of projects have received backing, including studies investigating cancer treatment, renal transplant care and the link between cardiovascular disease and sleep apnoea. Researchers will also examine new techniques to reduce pain, biomarkers for multiple sclerosis and programs to help clinicians identify and care for those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. One of the studies will investigate support for adolescents with diabetes as they transition from paediatric to adult services. Study lead Dr Shihab Hameed said this is often a very challenging time, marked by a deterioration in health and a loss of contact with treating teams. “Managing the condition requires a big commitment from patients to prevent long- term problems such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, or early death, so it’s important to especially support young people as they become more independent and move into adult services,” he said. “Our project has the potential to substantially improve the health of young adults at this critical junction in their lives, and provide

Ramsay Health Care CEO Richard Ryan (left) and NSLHD Medical Executive Director Chris Dennis (centre) with the Ramsay research grant recipients



(Left to right) A/Nurse Manager Operations Michelle De Vroome, Eliza Pross, Chief Executive Deb Willcox, NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service RN Jami Seale and Director of the NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service Peter Shine

new resource to guide mothers and their families A new booklet will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be and their families across the district with information they need to successfully navigate their pregnancy.

“This resource pulls together existing information, but shares it back with our community in a way that recognises the role of mind, body and spirit in caring for ourselves and our babies,” Eliza said. “Hopefully it provides families with a sense of safety and encouragement during a time that can be quite overwhelming, particularly within the Western health system. “I hope the booklet empowers Aboriginal women to know what to ask for and gives them space to value themselves and think about what they want from their journey in a format that’s not overwhelming.” A ceremony to launch the booklet was held at RNSH on Thursday, August 4 to coincide with National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day. It featured a commemorative performance by members of the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe. In addition to the booklet, posters based on the well-known children’s ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,’ rhyme, translated into the Dharug and Guringai languages, have also been created by NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Integrated Team Care Manager Ruby Van Kool. The posters will be displayed in maternity, paediatric and child youth and family services across the district and aim to provide a further welcome and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and families. “We know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be are always clinically safe in our care, but we want them to feel safe holistically too,” NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said. “There’s many issues facing all mums-to-be. The booklet and posters will help remove some of the stresses facing new mothers and their families.”

‘Tiny Feet, Big Journeys’ – A Guide for Pregnant Women and Families contains extensive details for mums and their families living or birthing across the region, providing information in an accessible and culturally- relevant format. The booklet is a collaboration between the Northern Sydney LHD Nursing and Midwifery Directorate, Maternal, Neonatal and Women’s Health Network and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services. It was compiled by Ochre and Salt, a northern Sydney-based Consultancy. “This booklet is about empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in a format that recognises our holistic concepts of wellbeing and supports women to know their rights,” Ochre and Salt Director Eliza Pross, a Yuin/Nueonne woman who developed the booklet in partnership with representatives from each organisation, said. “It’s also about giving them space to think about what is important for them during and after their pregnancies.” The 42-page booklet contains several first- hand accounts from mums sharing their experiences of issues including preparing for birth, post-natal depression, breast feeding and bonding with their new baby, among others. It will be available via the NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service website and intranet and at all maternity and child youth and family services across the district.

NSLHD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Integrated Team Care Manager Ruby Van Kool (2nd to right) with the translated posters she developed

Attendees were treated to a performance by the Koomurri dance group



Professor Jim Elliott

The Kolling announces new Academic Director Professor Jim Elliott has been appointed the Kolling Institute’s new Academic Director. Jim has had a successful research career over more than 20 years. He is recognised as a global expert in neck pain and whiplash injuries and leads large scale, multi-centre projects involving collaborators from across the globe.

neurophysiological mechanisms for poor functional recovery following acute spinal trauma. With an international team of collaborators, he is driving this multi- disciplinary project. Jim has published more than 150 peer- reviewed articles in top ranked journals and secured large-scale funding from the National Institutes of Health and the NSW Health Spinal Cord Injury Research program. His expertise has been recognised with a host of awards, including the Catherine Worthingham Fellowship from the American Physical Therapy Association.

During the period as the Kolling’s Acting Executive Director in 2021, Jim led the development of the institute’s new research plan and provided key leadership for the research team. He helped to steer the Kolling during an important time for the institute, and strengthened its position as a centre for world-leading translational research. As a Professor of Allied Health in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney and Northern Sydney Local Health District, Jim is highly respected across the national and international research community. He has directly improved health practices around neck pain, broadened our understanding of whiplash injuries and adopted cutting-edge technology to progress research in the complex fields of trauma and pain. Jim is also an adjunct Professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and Principal Investigator at the Neuromuscular Imaging Research Laboratory. Jim will continue in his role as Academic Director for the Northern Precinct, alongside fellow Academic Directors Associate Professor Margaret Schnitzler and Professor Robyn Gallagher.

Jim is currently leading a program of research discovery around the



APAC rebrands to Hospital in the Home The Acute Post-Acute Care (APAC) has officially rebranded to the Hospital in the Home (HITH) service.

of patients across the district despite a challenging few years. “The service exemplifies multidisciplinary care in the truest sense,” she said. “The service has continued to provide exceptional care to patients during the pandemic and I look forward to following the service in this next chapter as Hospital in the Home.”

HITH provides acute admitted care to hospital patients in the comfort of their home, or other suitable location. HITH has been proven to provide equivalent or better health outcomes for patients as they are at a reduced risk of adverse events from hospital admissions. The service has been in operation since 2000 and provided care to over 60,000 patients since then. HITH Manager Jairo Herrera said the rebrand will assist patients and the broader community in understanding the functions of the service. As part of the rebrand, HITH also launched a new referral intake line which will facilitate a smooth referral and admission process to the service. “The referral line will be manned by HITH clinicians and is going to make the referral process much easier for clinicians to tap in to our service, which will ensure patients receive the expert care they need,” he said. Chief Executive Deb Willcox thanked the service for providing a high level of multidisciplinary care to thousands

Chief Executive Deb Willcox and HITH Manager Jairo Herrera

The HITH team celebrate the new name



NSLHD farewells Robin Murray after 52 years of nursing NSLHD Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol nursing unit manager Robin Murray has called “52 years of nursing is a huge achievement and something that Robin should very proud of,” he said.

time on her nursing career after 52 years. Throughout her career, Robin has worked in nursing roles at North Ryde Psychiatric Hospital, Rozelle Hospital, The University of Sydney, the Langton Clinic, Jarrah House and corrective services before joining NSLHD. Robin has spent the last 17 years with the NSLHD Mental Health Drug and Alcohol (MHDA) services and has been a part of some significant changes in the service. Most notably, Robin played a vital role in the establishment of the Involuntary Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program and also was a key figure in the relocation of the Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Service to the Douglas Building at RNSH. Robin has always been a champion for drug and alcohol clients by advocating and challenging the stigma associated with substance misuse. “I’ve always been very passionate about helping my patients and clients with their wellbeing and recovery journey,” she said. Reflecting on her career, Robin said the main reason she practiced nursing for 50 years was because she found fulfilment in being a part of the journey with patients and clients. “I’ve worked in the field for so long because being a part of the recovery journey is very fulfilling and I love seeing how far patients and clients can come with the right support and treatment,” she said. NSLHD MHDA services A/Director Kingsley Waterson thanked Robin for her service and contributions.

“I would like to thank Robin for all of her contributions to the NSLHD Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol services and wish her all the best in retirement.”

Robin Murray and A/Director of the NSLHD MHDA services Kingsley Waterson

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Dr Henry Wu and Associate Professor Sonia Saad

test developed to identify the severity of kidney disease There may soon be a safer approach to diagnosing and measuring the progression of chronic kidney disease following new

“Having the ability to diagnose patients with a simple urine test represents a significant step forward for those with chronic kidney disease,” she said. “Importantly, this enables early intervention and effective management.” Project co-lead Associate Professor Sonia Saad said that being able to assess kidney pathology in a non-invasive way brings a host of benefits. “It will enable clinicians to examine the effects of new drugs on the kidney and monitor kidney pathology over time,” she said. “This will provide valuable information on the effectiveness of treatments.” PhD student Dr Henry Wu has welcomed the chance to be involved in the project. “It’s been rewarding to have been part of the development of this important new technology. We would like to see it applied broadly across clinical practice given the health and economic benefits of this approach,” he said. The study is being led by Professor Pollock and Associate Professor Saad from the University of Sydney in collaboration with Professor Ewa Goldys and her team from the University of New South Wales.

research by the team from the Kolling Institute’s Renal Research Laboratory. The condition is a global health issue, which now affects more than 13 per cent of the worldwide population. Chronic kidney disease is a progressive disease that leads to end-stage kidney failure, which is fatal without dialysis or a kidney transplant. Currently there are tests to detect advanced stages of the disease, but early detection is not possible. Biopsies are performed to confirm a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease, but this approach brings with it inherent risks such as bleeding, pain and hospitalisation. Encouragingly, researchers from the Kolling Institute and the University of New South Wales have now developed biomedical technology to provide accurate information around early diagnosis and prognosis, without the risks of an invasive biopsy procedure. Head of the Kolling’s Renal Research Laboratory Professor Carol Pollock said this exciting new technology provides clear information about kidney pathology by examining kidney cells in urine.




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