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Youth health initiatives win Pitch funding at Sydney Innovation Week

Celebrating 10 years of the Pitch with an Innovation Week feature at Canterbury Hospital.

Three people holding a giant cheque
SydneyConnect Image: Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub pitch winners with Graeme Loy, District Chief Executive

Staff from across Sydney Local Health District came together at Canterbury Hospital for the Pitch as part of Sydney Innovation Week. 

In its 10th year, the District’s innovation challenge heard four pitches from four different District health services speak for a diverse range of communities.  

“It means a lot for the local communities, such as the ones here in the Canterbury community,” said Grace Vu, Health Promotion Officer, Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub.

Grace and colleague Su Kim, Health Promotion Officer, secured $16,800 for their program to help children from newly arrived migrant families with school readiness and access to key local health services.

“ABCs for C.A.L.D” will develop health education sessions and culturally appropriate, in-language resources tailored for emerging community groups.

“Many newly arrived families have similar experiences and risk. We can help children meet their milestones and catch up sooner,” said Su.

Dr Maryssa Portelli, Emergency Psychiatry Service, Consultation Liaison, from RPA, also won $35,000 for an enhancement of the comprehensive psychiatric service for Prader-Willi Syndrome in the hospital and related Complex Obesity Service at the Metabolism and Obesity Services (COSMOS).

“We have the only Prader-Willi syndrome service in NSW, and at last count we had 30-40 people eager to attend if it existed,” she said. 

“It means really vulnerable people who come to COSMOS or the clinic can have really comprehensive care.”

The service will support the delivery of expert psychiatric assessment and management planning to patients from across the state, helping avoid medical complications of inappropriate prescribing and unnecessary hospital admissions.

Dr Ben Siddall, geriatrics unit resident from Concord Hospital, pitched for a pioneering virtual reality (VR) pain relief management strategy for burns patients. As a proof of concept, he was keen to fund new devices for the Concord Hospital Burns Unit. 

“VR has improved dramatically over the last decade. When patients engage in a game while they are receiving wound care, it would lead to reduced reliance on opiate medications,” he said.

Dr Janani Thillainadesan, Staff Specialist Geriatrician, also from Concord Hospital and Dani Hutchinson, CERA Consumer Advisory Group Research Officer, pitched for their project “What Matters Most” – Amplifying the Voices of Older Consumers in Research.

“Our research shows that older people want to be understood as an individual and receive holistic care,” Dani said.

Hospital volunteer Jan Bell was invited to share her experiences to help drive their funding pitch.

“Whilst in the ED, I felt myself invisible and also powerless. My voice is no longer strong enough. I think it's important to share my story to inform the education of all staff in the hospital,” Jan said. 

Hosted by Corryn McKay, District Director, Strategic Relations, it was the first Pitch judging experience for Graeme Loy PSM, District Chief Executive. 

The judging panel also included Lyn White, longstanding Consumer Representative from the Balmain Hospital Consumer Advisory Committee, Associate Professor Eileen Rogan, Senior Staff Specialist in Emergency Medicine and Director of Medical Services, Canterbury Hospital, Kevin Mascarhenes, Clinical Information Systems Director from the District’s Digital Health and Innovation, and Charlie Farah, Field Chief Technology Officer from Qlik, a technology focused company leading the way for AI-powered solutions.

Over the past 10 years, The Pitch at Sydney Local Health District has provided more than $2 million dollars in funding towards diverse projects to help bring them to life.