NSLHD News November 5

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


christmas with dignity The district-wide campaign, launched at Ryde Hospital this week, supports those experiencing homelessness during the festive season.

Read more on Page 5

2020 nsw health awards: NSLHD does the double Page 7

hornsby hospital’s patient experience officers Page 4


message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox

I was delighted to join the NSW Health Awards vitual watch party recently with two of our wonderful projects’ winning their respective categories. I would like to congratulate the Mental Health Intensive Care Unit at Hornsby Ku- ring-gai Hospital for claiming the Excellence in the Provision of Mental Health Sevices category with their project ‘Reducing Time in Seclusion in the Mental Health Intensive Care Unit’ and the Intensive Care Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital for winning the Patient Safety First award with the project ‘Reducing Inappropriate Arterial Blood Gas Testing in a 58-bed Quarternary ICU’. Both projects have delivered phenomenal benefits to our patients and are testament to the excellent work and culture within our district. Our district was lucky enough to be nominated three times, and while our team at Mona Vale Rehab missed out claiming the Transforming Patient Experience Award, I would like to congratulate them for their work in partnership with their patients to deliver such a successful program. You are still very much winners to us as you improve the lives of our patients remarkably day in, day out. Sydney Local Health District’s Quality and Improvement Awards earlier this year. These awards formed the foundation for the teams to enter the NSW Health Awards and enjoy their success on a larger scale. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on next years instalment of the awards and how you can take part. Importantly, all of our winners and nominees took part in the Northern Next Wednesday is also International Pathology Day. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our pathologists across the district working behind the

scenes for the fantastic work they do every day. Never before has pathology testing made such a crucial contribution to the wellbeing of the community as it has this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The healthcare system has been able to use the knowledge gained from COVID-19 testing to locate the virus and protect the community. Our staff have been working around the clock to get COVID-19 results to patients as quickly as possible. The hard work our pathologists put in every single day in processing tests means those in our community can get back to work or school and their lives as soon as possible. Finally, if you haven’t already done so, I’d like to encourage you to take a few minutes to complete the Future Health online survey. Closing on Friday 6 November, the survey is designed to get your input on the things that matter most to you as we plan for how our health system grows and adapts to meet the needs of our patients and workforce over the coming decade. The Future Health Strategy will look at ways to do this, and builds on the foundations of the NSW State Health Plan, which ends on 30 June 2021. A key part of the strategy will be identifying the ways that we can best support you to continue delivering high quality, safe and compassionate care. Your input will be critical and will help drive improvements across our health system – in the way we work, the way we deliver health services and the projects we prioritise over the next decade.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District


Solar panels at Hornsby Hospital

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital soaks up the sun Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital has gone solar now boasting the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system on a healthcare facility in Australia. The green initiative is part of a statewide solar program which was launched by Minister for Environment and local Member of Parliament (Hornsby), Matt Kean, and Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard in January.

As HKH has a large roof space and relatively new buildings, the campus was selected to be one of the first hospitals in the state to have solar energy, with an estimated combined size of 865 kilowatts (kW). The system will yield over one million kWs of power per year, saving $250,000 and 900 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

Supportive care nurse provides bridge between cardiology and palliative care

For Vincenzo Tassone, his independence has always been important and he wasn’t going to let something like heart failure keep him off his feet for too long. The former Willoughby fruit shop owner has benefitted from working with Cardiac Supportive Care Transitional Nurse Practitioner Kelly Hanvey, allowing him to live at home with his wife Barbara at his side and avoid hospital. Barbara said Kelly had proven a godsend, providing Vincenzo and herself with an outlet for questions and also acting as a conduit for other needs. “She’s been very good, she rings up and checks on him and we’ve been referred to other services as well,” Barbara said. “When he was in hospital, Kelly came to see him a couple of times but he’s managed to be out of hospital for quite a few weeks now while working with her.” In the five short months since commencing in the role Kelly has already seen benefits for patients like Vincenzo and countless others. “I’m here to help create that bridge between cardiology and palliative care,” Kelly said. “Heart failure patients are living a lot longer than they might have a few years ago, meaning older patients can be living with an increased symptom burden. Palliative care services are experts at managing some of those symptoms that patients with heart failure may have.” A cardiac nurse with more than 20 years of experience, Kelly’s new role involves everything

Nurse Practitioner Kelly with patient Vincenzo

from home visits to referring patients to services like physiotherapy, social work and OT. Linking with Royal North Shore, Ryde and Hornsby hospitals, Kelly has developed a simple aim; starting the journey earlier to help make it easier. “We’re hoping to improve quality of life and symptom control for patients. We’re also hoping to reduce readmission rates into hospital and avoidance of ICU, develop collaborative and integrated services” she said. “It’s not about end of life care, it’s about supportive care and it should start at an earlier phase of the patient journey.” For more information on the cardiac supportive care model, please contact Kelly on 0427 312 302 between 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday.



Registered Nurse Carmel Fish

Even the smallest NICU baby benefits from books Registered Nurse Carmel Fish knows the importance of reading to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Having worked at Royal with them and reducing some of the stress associated with being in the NICU, but you are also supporting your baby’s brain development,” she said. “It’s a long day for parents to come and sit in the NICU with

impact on the ED, with patients surveyed stating they were very impressed with the care through ED. The emergency department’s Nurse Unit Manager, Rosalyn Ferguson, said: “The patient experience officers have had a very positive effect on all staff in the ED. They have brought to the fore the difference a positive patient experience has on all not just the patient. They are able to capture and improve the wonderful culture in this ED.” library. “We are so pleased with how many parents got involved this year, and how many books were read – it’s a fantastic initiative to encourage parents to pick up a book and read to their baby,” Carmel said. Research shows children who are read to on a regular basis when they are young are more readily able to learn to read once they start school. When hearing someone read, children learn to recognise the structure of language, learn grammar and recognise the sound of words. Children also learn to love books and stimulate their imagination. For more information visit https://bit.ly/34UtOXF

officers at Hornsby Hospital’s emergency department (ED) are changing the atmosphere for waiting patients and their families. Similar to a concierge service, Keith Moir and Rebecca Clark (pictured on the front cover) warmly greet patients and their carers when they arrive to ED. While the patient is waiting, Keith or Rebecca will explain where the amenities are, show the free mobile phone charging station and have a chat to put the patient at ease. North Shore Hospital’s NICU for the last 31 years, Carmel is a passionate advocate for parents reading to their babies in the NICU. For the last two years she has coordinated the Little Readers Read-a- thon which aims to empower parents to read to their baby every day. Carmel said while a baby is in the NICU critical brain development is occurring, including the development of the pathways in the brain that control language skills. “By reading to your baby in the NICU, you’re not only bonding

“The best part (of my role) from my point of view is that it feels like you can make an impact for the hospital and the patient,” Keith said. “Most patients are pleased that they are greeted and made to feel welcome. “We try and put the patient at ease and make them feel that they are in the best place for care. If possible, we try and get them to have a laugh and relax.” The introduction of Keith and Rebecca has had a positive their baby. Reading to your baby is an activity parents can do every day during a time where many feel helpless in an intense and stressful environment.” In this year’s Little Readers Read-a-thon, parents at the RNSH NICU read 81 different books to their babies – the third highest number for those participating across Australian hospitals and the first in the state. For its efforts, the NICU was donated 30 children’s books to help build the unit’s

Improving the patient experience at Hornsby Hospital New patient experience



Ryde staff at the Christmas with Dignity campaign launch

Staff turn Santa as part of Christmas with Dignity It may only be November, but there is a good reason Christmas trees adorned with purple decorations are springing up around the district. As part of Northern Sydney’s workplace giving partnership with homelessness and crisis

with an organisation like Dignity, who provide that crisis support through housing and Dignity Dishes as well as advocacy for those experiencing homelessness in our community.” CEO and Co-Founder of Dignity Suzanne Hopman said it appreciated the support and donations from all of NSLHD’s staff. “Dignity’s Christmas appeal has commenced with the simple mission of ensuring those at risk of or experiencing homelessness feel far from forgotten this Christmas and we are extremely grateful to the Northern Sydney Local Health District for partnering with us again this year to help achieve this,” she said. For more information on where you can drop your donation, see the fact box for tree locations. Tree locations: • NSLHD Executive - Level 14 Kolling Building, RNSH Campus, Reserve Road • Ryde Hospital - inside main entry, Denistone Road • Mona Vale Hospital - Reception Beachside Rehabilitation Unit or Community Health Centre, Coronation Street • Hornsby Hospital - to be confirmed

support charity Dignity, staff and the public are being encouraged to donate non-perishable food items as well as new clothes, socks and undies as part of the Christmas with Dignity campaign. The campaign, which officially launched district-wide on November 2 at Ryde Hospital, is running for its second year and supports those who may be experiencing homelessness during the festive season. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said the campaign gives everyone a chance to make a small but compassionate difference to someone’s holidays. “In a year that has been challenging in so many ways, Christmas has taken somewhat of a backseat for many of us – but some might not even have a place to call home this Christmas, or if they do, they might not have anything to eat,” Deb said. “That’s why we have been so proud to partner

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Kolling researchers drive exciting new projects following funding success Professor Gemma Figtree has led a successful bid for a Cardiovascular Centre of Excellence, securing $2.5 million in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Around 20 national and international

collaborators will be involved in the research, targeting the global heart disease epidemic through new diagnostic techniques and prevention strategies. Professor Figtree has welcomed the significant funding, with one Australian suffering a heart attack every 10 minutes, many without prior warning. “Our research will investigate what contributes to atherosclerosis beyond the traditional risk factors, and this will broaden our understanding of how to manage patients who suffer a heart attack without any risk factors,” she said. “We will look to establish new biomarkers and clinical pathways for detection of atherosclerosis, while the team will also be working to develop secondary prevention strategies. “The Centre of Excellence is an exciting step in the battle against heart disease, and demonstrates the increasing co-ordination of cardiovascular research across the country. “It also highlights the tremendous expertise we have here within the Kolling and on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus.” NHMRC funds will also go towards an innovative project developed by the Kolling’s Executive Director Professor Carolyn Sue to improve access to diagnosis for mitochondrial disease patients. “Mitochondrial disease is the most common inherited metabolic condition. It can be diagnosed using whole genome sequencing, but access to testing is currently restricted,” Carolyn said. “Through this project, we will partner with

Professor Gemma Figtree

Professor Carolyn Sue

the NSLHD and the NSW Ministry of Health, to develop a unique web-based platform to support the diagnosis of patients with or suspected to have mitochondrial disease. “The platform will assist health professionals including general practitioners to deliver a precise genetic diagnosis, and importantly, this will inform treatment and family planning. “I’m delighted to see this ground-breaking project progress. It represents many years in the planning and promises to deliver significant national and global benefits. “We are well placed to achieve results given the clinical and scientific expertise within the hospital and the Kolling’s neurogenetics team.”


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


The winning team from Hornsby Hospital with CE Deb Willcox

District does the double at NSW Health Awards Northern Sydney Local Health District had twice the cause for celebration after claiming two NSW Health Awards last week.

Royal North Shore Hospital Intensive Care Staff Specialist Dr Jonathan Gatward said he was thrilled the team got to take home the award, along with its Australian Council on Healthcare Standards and Quality and Improvement awards. “It means a great deal to us to win this award,” he said. “We are so proud of this project for three reasons. Firstly, the reduction in arterial blood gasses has been sustained over three years - we have not seen a slide back to our old ways of over-ordering. “Second, the project was a huge team effort and shows what can be achieved by a group of clinicians who are motivated to make things better. “Thirdly, this project is about empowerment - trusting nurses and junior doctors to use their clinical judgement and common sense to make better choices around test ordering.” Both Jonathan and James said it all starts with an idea and encouraged others to turn their thoughts into action. “If you’re driven to make a change, you should go for it, no matter how small the project,” James said. Northern Sydney was lucky enough to have three finalists in the NSW Health Awards, but unfortunately Mona Vale Hospital’s Patient Led Handover Project fell just short. Chief Executive Deb Willcox said she was proud of the teams involved and looked forward to seeing the projects continue to improve the lives of patients and consumers into the future.

The mental health intensive care unit (MHICU) at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital claimed the Excellence in the Provision of Mental Health Services Award with its project ‘Reducing Time in Seclusion in the Mental Health Intensive Care Unit’. Royal North Shore Hospital’s intensive care unit (pictured on the front cover) won the Patient Safety First award with the project ‘Reducing Inappropriate Arterial Blood Gas Testing in a 58-bed Quarternary ICU’.

MHICU Nurse Unit Manager James Wall said the fact the competition was of such a high calibre made it all the sweeter to win. “The other nominees had terrific projects; we were just happy to be nominated in the end but it was a nice surprise to win,” he said. He paid tribute to his staff and the support the team received as part of their project, which has greatly benefitted consumers and staff alike. “It’s really rewarding for the team to see their hard work pay off,” James said. “It has been a goal of the unit for a number of years to manage behavioural disturbance in a least restrictive and trauma informed manner and reduce the use of seclusion and restraint. “The feedback from people who have been admitted to the unit, when they recover, and their families has been really positive and our overall rates of acute behavioural disturbance, including injury rates to people in the unit and staff, have reduced as well.”

RNSH team celebrating their win



MANAGEMENT COLLABORATION CREATIVITY Trauma informed care & disaster response


*Kolling Auditorium | 13 November 2020 * physical distancing requirements will limit numbers – video conferencing will be available

KEYNOTE SPEAKER Professor Stewart Dunn Professor of Psychological Medicine The University of Sydney Topic: “How to manage uncertainity”

Free Registration: 30 September – 30 October Registration: NSLHD-NSRHS-SymposiumRegistration@health.nsw.gov.au


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