NSLHD News September 23 2022

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


Main story Short blurb NSLHD UNVEILS INNOVATIVE ROBOT The $400,000 ‘KOBRA’ is set to improve hip and knee replacement surgeries. Page 3 Read more on Page x

Helpline an ‘amazing’ support for patients Page 7

Books for babies on International Literacy Day Page 4


I feel incredibly privileged and honoured to be taking on this Interim CE role and to be working alongside each of you at one of the best local health districts in NSW. Having worked for the district for more than 18 years hopefully I am already known to many of you through the various roles I have held. For those of you I have not had the opportunity to meet I was most recently NSLHD Executive Director of Operations and I have in the past been General Manager of Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital and NSLHD Director of Finance. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Deb Willcox and acknowledge the extraordinary contribution she has made to make Northern Sydney Local Health District such an outstanding and high- performing district. With the help of the Executive Team and the support of the Board and Chair, Trevor Danos AM I intend to continue Deb’s legacy and leadership and dedicate myself to ensuring you are able to provide the very best care to your patients and our community. My aim in the coming weeks is to visit as many of you as possible. I am keen to understand and listen to the things that matter to you. I would like to thank staff who worked during yesterday’s National Day of Mourning for Her Majesty The Queen. We ensured our hospitals continue to perform

necessary activity where possible, while also respecting the protocols in place to mark this special day. Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the NSLHD Consumers Forum and it was wonderful to meet so many of our consumer advisors in person. The forum is a great opportunity to share ideas and work with consumer advisors to help shape our services. We recently received our quarterly results from the Bureau of Health Information for April to June. Despite the adversities of high COVID-19 and influenza case numbers, our district continued to perform as one of the best in the state over this period. This is another strong reflection of the dedication and high level of health care we provide as a district. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide feedback through the 2022 People Matter Employee Survey. The district’s overall response rate was the highest we have ever had and I look forward to updating you about various initiatives that are developed as a result of your feedback. Thank you all for continuing to provide excellent care to our community and I very much look forward to working with you as Interim Chief Executive over the coming months.

Lee Gregory Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



Sophisticated new robot driving innovation in joint surgery A $400,000 robot, which may hold the key to

of research and optimise surgical approaches. Professor Bill Walter, Royal North Shore Hospital orthopaedic surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatic Surgery at the University of Sydney has witnessed advances in surgical techniques over many years. He said the next improvements will be delivered through new technologies provided by robots like KOBRA. “We have seen that previous innovations have come through new materials and design,” he said. The next innovations however in joint replacement surgery will be delivered through improved

biomechanics of the artificial joints,” “It’s tremendously encouraging to see this world-leading technology coming to the Kolling. It will assist researchers, engineers and surgeons, and ultimately lead to improved surgical techniques, better placement of implants and good long- term health outcomes for our community.” The robot has been made possible following a collaboration between the Northern Sydney Local Health District, the University of Sydney, the Kolling Institute, the NSW Investment Boosting Business Innovation program and the RNSH Staff Specialist Trust Fund.

significant improvements in hip and knee replacements, is now operational at the Kolling Institute. Known as KOBRA, or the Kolling Orthopaedic Biomechanics Robotic Arm, the new technology delivers an advanced testing facility while greatly increasing research capabilities. It is the largest of its kind in Australia and one of just two SimVitro robots in the country. Director of the Kolling’s Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Lab Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke has welcomed its installation, orthopaedic and biomedical engineering research, new surgical techniques and medical technologies. “KOBRA will be used to simulate complex human movements on joints,” Elizabeth said. “This is a new way of working and very few other machines have this capability where they can test joints through a broad range of life-like manoeuvers, like hip flexing, squatting, walking and throwing. “We expect to use the robot in the testing of implants, saying it represents a significant step for particularly for hip and knee replacements, to gauge how the implants will function and to help ensure the movement is as life-like as possible,” Elizabeth said. The orthopaedic biomechanics robot is not only expected to advance hip and knee replacements, but is also likely to assist surgeons working to repair chronic shoulder instability. Large numbers of patients are presenting with this injury and the information provided by the robot will help to improve the quality

The KOBRA robot



Books for babies on International Literacy Day For the last 15 years Wendy Bean from the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association, Sydney North, has been donating books to the newest members of the community. Every year Wendy delivers books to Royal North Shore Hospital’s maternity unit and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to tie in with International Literacy Day.

was very grateful for the donation. “Wendy has provided a beautiful collection of books for us,” Carmel said. “These will be treasured by parents spending precious time with their babies.” Wendy thanked staff at RNSH for distributing the books. “ALEA Sydney North is

One-day-old baby Edward received one of his very first books, Time for bed, while in the RNSH’s maternity ward. His mum Catherine wasted no time to start reading it to him. RNSH Midwifery Unit Manager at the maternity ward Mary Cameron said the new books are always appreciated and well- received by new parents. “Thank you so much to the North Sydney Australian Literacy Educators’ Association for the books as this assists in raising awareness of the importance of literacy,” Mary said. RNSH NICU Discharge Coordinator Carmel Pearsall runs the book library in the NICU and Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Employee Resource Network for Disability (ERNoD) is continuing its efforts to increase the presence and voices of people with a disability. Group member and Royal North Shore Hospital Occupational Therapist Elise Kerle was one of the ERNoD representatives at the recent Australian Network on Disability’s Annual Conference. Various business leaders, advocates and other experts attended the conference, which examined how accessibility and inclusion can best be promoted and successfully embedded in organisations. “There was a presentation from the ABC which discussed the representation of people with a disability in the media,” she said. “That resonated with me because as a health service we should be reflecting the community we serve. “If you look around Royal North Shore Hospital, for example, you will see people in wheelchairs. There’s millions of people around the world with a disability leading successful lives, so having staff here with that lived experience themselves is vital. “This was a good chance to see what can be implemented to make a positive difference to people’s lives and ensure NSLHD is providing an inclusive workplace for everyone.” ERNoD is a voluntary, employee-led group which meets bi-monthly to discuss ways to

grateful to staff for distributing the books over the last couple of years,” Wendy said. “This has

allowed us to continue the program during COVID-19 restrictions.” Group working to increase voice of disabled people at NSLHD Mum Catherine reads to her one-day-old baby Edward

better support people with a disability, as well as their supporters and carers. It was formed as part of the district’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy 2020-22. Planned activities include further promotion around this year’s International Day of People with Disability, which takes place on December 3 and aims to increase public awareness and understanding of people with a disability. “More than four million people in Australia – so about 20 per cent - have some form of disability, but I think there’s only about three per cent within NSLHD who identify as disabled,” Elise said. “We must ensure we create opportunities for people who identify as disabled to feel comfortable working here.”

Elise said the group is always looking for new members. It is open to people at NSLHD with a disability, carers of people with a disability or advocates for the employment of people with a disability.

Elise Kerle (right), pictured with Tess Whelan, Program coordinator with the Stepping Into Internships organisation at the recent Australian Network on Disability’s Annual Conference



Treatment giving hope to immuno-compromised patients Life is being made easier for vulnerable patients like Helen with a new treatment made available through a collaboration between the NSLHD Nursing Midwifery Directorate and the Virtual Hospital at Royal North Shore Hospital. it will provide me with some relief. “It means there will be more freedom and life will not be as intense as I have been enduring.”

Evusheld works by binding to the spike protein receptors of the virus, effectively ‘blocking’ COVID-19 from entering the body and multiplying. Potential patients are identified from the specialist teams at NSLHD facilities and a text message is sent to the patients offering an appointment with one of the doctors in the virtual hospital. If the patient would like to receive the treatment they are given an appointment to attend the RNSH COVID-19 vaccination hub. Data on the effect of COVID-19 on Australia’s immune-compromised patients is still scant, with the University of Sydney’s Kirby Institute recently launching a study to discover more. An American study recently found that immunocompromised people account for about 12 per cent of all COVID-related hospitalisations, despite only accounting for about three per cent of the total US population. Helen, whose condition has caused her more than 100 broken bones, also received emergency treatment at RNSH after catching COVID-19 herself last year. “When COVID-19 hit, I was basically staying at home until vaccines were available,” she said. “The telehealth and virtual care service at RNSH was terrific for me. When I caught COVID-19, I was given the anti-viral treatment I needed straight away (and) I was able to fully recover, apart from a lingering cough. “With this treatment, I should be more resistant to COVID and not less.” More patient information on Evushed is available at: https://bit.ly/3Lqeg1d

Helen, from Chatswood, has been among the first patients at RNSH to receive Evusheld treatment, which helps protect moderate to severely immune-compromised patients or those with auto-immune diseases from COVID-19. The treatment provides a defence for patients who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 even if they have been fully vaccinated. For Helen, who suffers from a rare condition causing brittle bones and had a kidney transplant in 2015, the treatment has been invaluable. “COVID-19 hugely impacted the life of me and my family, so this treatment is great for me,” the married mother-of-two said. “I am still circumspect and cautious when I go out, like wearing a mask for example, but

RNSH Evusheld patient, Helen

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.



RNSH’S Tessa achieves her channel dream Ever wondered how it feels to swim for 10 hours straight?

jellyfish and battle strong currents which extended the swim to about 50 kilometres. “The sunrise lasted for hours and was so beautiful,” Tessa said. “The boats looked incredibly huge close up as well. “Every 30 minutes I was being thrown a drink bottle or energy gel, so I just broke the swim down like that. “At the eight-hour mark I was thinking, ‘wow, this is long’ but I kept thinking how lucky I was to be doing it. That’s what got me through.” After finishing her swim in France after a shade more than 10 hours, an “exhausted but elated” Tessa travelled back by boat back to Dover, where she had her name added to a list of English Channel swimmers in a local pub. Returning to Australia after a well-earned European holiday, Tessa is eyeing her next challenge – swimming around New York’s Manhattan Island. “I’ve always been a goal-orientated person,” she said. “That’s what helped me keep getting up at 4am for training. “It’s a special honour (and) so exciting.”

Inspirational Royal North Shore Hospital ICU Specialist doctor Tessa Garside now knows, having recently completed a long-held dream of swimming the English Channel. About 300 people take on the 35-kilometre swim every year, but only around one in five manage to complete it. “I think it’s the happiest I have ever been,” Dr Garside said. “I just thought, ‘oh my God, I have done it’. “It’s a special feeling of achievement.” The 34-year-old former triathlete and experienced ocean swimmer was originally due to undertake the swim in 2020 prior to the pandemic. After undergoing an intensive six-day per week training regime at Sydney beaches, Tessa travelled to the English port of Dover for the swim. “There’s only a small window of time when you can swim, but you don’t know when exactly,” Tessa said. “I was called at 7pm on Sunday night telling me to be at the marina at 2.15am the next morning to set off. “I got ready as we drove from the port of Dover to the start at Samphire Hoe. All of a sudden we were under the white cliffs and it was time to start. I was so focused and excited.” Setting off in “pitch black” conditions and 16 degree waters, Tessa was accompanied on a nearby boat by her support team including a swimming coach and two skippers to monitor her safety and provide valuable supplies. “It’s the busiest shipping lane in the world with notoriously big tides so you really rely on the experience of the skippers for the crossing,” she said. Swimming alongside the boat to ensure her safety as the sun came up, Tessa had to dodge

RNSH’s Tessa Garside signs her name on the list of fellow swimmers after recently swimming across the English Channel

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Helpline an ‘amazing’ support for patients For Northern Sydney Cancer Centre (NSCC)

“rewarding” experience. “Helping ensure patients receive nutritious meals is so important,” she said. “You help patients who wouldn’t be able to handle food properly or who simply need someone to chat to. “I like helping people and being part of the hospital environment. There’s a huge sense of reward from being involved.” Other help offered by volunteers includes supporting staff by clearing and cleaning bed tables prior to the arrival of food trays and feeding assistance. Volunteers will usually be needed from 11.30- 1pm Monday-Friday and free parking at the hospital is provided. They will receive full training and an orientation session will allow prospective VMAs to assess their suitability. Most VMAs work one day a week but more days could be arranged. The minimum age for a volunteer is 18. The scheme will run on adult wards at the hospital, excluding ICU and maternity. Anyone interested should email Marie Perkins on marie.perkins@health.nsw.gov.au or call 9485 6665. service for patient symptom management and referrals are made to the nurse practitioner (Symptom Urgent Review Clinic) as needed. A recent patient satisfaction survey highlighted the value of the helpline with several respondents providing positive comments about the quality and usefulness of advice given. Clinical Nurse Consultant, Rebecca Needham (pictured on cover), who helps run the Cancer Helpline, said it was great to hear such positive feedback for the important service. “It is reassuring and satisfying for us to hear as patient welfare is our top priority,” she said. Fellow Clinical Nurse Consultant, Kate Lyons, who also helps run the helpline, said it had proven to reduce the number of patients that attend the emergency department. “It has been particularly beneficial to our patients throughout the pandemic, enabling them access to the most up to date information around the evolving COVID-19 restrictions, vaccinations and testing requirements,” she said. “Not only does this (service) reduce the burden on our emergency services, but it is also much more beneficial for the patient – improving patient satisfaction and outcomes.”

patients like Maria Bedoya, the Cancer Helpline has been an “amazing” support during treatment. The service allows NSCC patients, their families and carers to access an experienced cancer nurse, who can provide guidance and support around treatment side-effects and health concerns. Maria, from Marsfield, called the helpline several times after being diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2021 and said it had been invaluable during her treatment. “When I had a question, they had a solution,” she said. “It was really amazing. There were times during my treatment when I was really worried. “For example, if my mouth was hurting or I was feeling something else that I was unsure about. “Every time I called, they always had the answer. They gave me peace of mind which was the most important thing and it was wonderful knowing that someone is there for you at that time.” The helpline is run by two experienced clinical nurse consultants that have expertise in managing side effects from cancer treatment in both haematology and oncology. The helpline provides a comprehensive

Resuming hornsby hospital service looking for volunteers Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital is seeking volunteers for its Volunteer Mealtime Assistants (VMAs) program.

VMAs are part of a vital service offered at Hornsby Hospital to increase the level of assistance provided for patients that may require additional support at meal times. Support offered by VMAs can include opening food packages, cutting up meals, encouraging patients to eat and helping make the meal time a more pleasant experience. Anne Rayment started volunteering with the program about seven years ago after seeing a newspaper advert and said it had been a

Hornsby volunteer, Anne Rayment



Friday 14 October

#StrongerTogether #AHPsDay Celebrating the Allied Health Community

Celebrate the skills, achievements and work of Allied Health Professionals this October.

Northern Sydney Local Health District


ID: 60584

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