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With the COVID-19 lockdown extended through August, many causes of stress and anxiety in our lives right now are beyond our control.But there is a tool within your control that anyone can harness: mindfulness meditation.David Johnson introduced the practice to Western Sydney Local Health District staff last year to help manage the additional stress of COVID-19, and he continues his twice-daily sessions for staff online.In this episode David introduces the concept and takes us through a 15-minute mindfulness meditation session.WSLHD provides many initiatives to support staff wellbeing including wellness information hubs, manager and team wellness sessions, and counselling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).If you’re a staff member, find out more at the COVID-19 Staff Wellbeing page.
Mitch first experienced anxiety and depression as a high school student, and in the years that followed he struggled with suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder.He is now a lived experience peer worker with the Towards Zero Suicides team at Western Sydney Local Health District, meaning he uses his own experience to help others experiencing a suicidal crisis – as he explains on the latest episode of the Western Sydney Health Check podcast.The program also features an interview with WSLHD Mental Health Services executive director Professor Vlasios Brakoulias, discussing the mental health impact of lockdown.Help is always available if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health issue:Lifeline 13 11 14Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800To learn more about mental health services available in western Sydney, call the Mental Health Access Line anytime on 1800 011 511. In an emergency, always call triple zero (000).Click here for a list of mental health and support services in Western Sydney. 
We're mad about sport in western Sydney but it still might come as a surprise that there are some extremely talented athletes who work for Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).Alvina Ng always loved the Ninja Warrior franchise but never imagined she would take on the famed obstacle course known as Mt Midoriyama.The Auburn Hospital emergency doctor is now the face of the fifth Australian season, featuring on billboards around the country – all because one of the producers noticed her intense upper body workouts on Instagram.Another one of our health heroes, Kate Murdoch, jokes she’s more comfortable on water than land, but the former Paralympic athlete and WSLHD disability workforce coordinator is clearly no slouch wherever she competes.She recently made history as the first-of-two vision-impaired athletes to complete the UTA22 – a 22-kilometre race through the Blue Mountains, one of Australia’s hardest trail running courses, incorporating 5,000 steps among other challenges.Both feature on this week's episode of Western Sydney Health Check!
Emma Watkins is best known as the girl with the bow in hair. The singing, dancing, drumming, Yellow Wiggle delights audiences across the globe with her dazzling warmth and energy.But what people didn’t realise was behind the scenes, Emma was in serious pain for a long time – silently suffering from a debilitating condition known as endometriosis.Endometriosis, commonly referred to as “endo”, is a common disease in which the tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows outside it in other parts of the body.More than 830,000 Australian women – over 11 per cent – suffer from endometriosis at some point in their life with the disease often starting in teenagers.If you have concerns about endometriosis, please contact your GP in the first instance.
Julia can remember looking down at her broken arm, the bone through the skin, as the propeller of the helicopter that carried her to Westmead Hospital for lifesaving surgery whirred to life.She was riding her motorcycle on Valentine’s Day when she had a head-on collision with a four-wheel-drive, destroying her bike and nearly claiming her life.Julia was the first patient transferred to the new trauma ward in Westmead Hospital’s Central Acute Services Building, a dedicated unit focused on caring for patients with multiple life-threatening injuries. “So many people have done so much work to put me back together. For me to be frustrated would be, I don’t know, I think rude on my behalf,” Julia said.“I’m just very grateful for everything that everyone is doing.”As part of Patient Experience Week, we also speak to Blacktown Hospital junior doctor Mithila Zaheen about her passion for volunteer work in western Sydney.The Bangladesh-born Australian was recently named a finalist for Blacktown City Woman of the Year and her family’s roots in western Sydney, and patient care, couldn’t be stronger.
From training with the Cronulla Sharks to lying in a hospital bed, Fine Kula’s heroic battle with brain cancer captured hearts across western Sydney, the Shire, and Australia last year.The rising NRL star was diagnosed with medulloblastoma at the start of 2020, and underwent treatment at Westmead Hospital.Fine and his oncologist Dr Vivek Bhadri join us on the latest episode of Western Sydney Health Check to share how the 21 year old beat the aggressive medulloblastoma tumour thanks to the expert care and the support of his family, girlfriend, team mates and former school.After dedicating seven years of his life to football, Fine was forced to give up his dream of playing professionally – but he’s found a new calling in the sport by coaching the Sharks under 17s and under 19 women’s representative teams.But it’s an incredible result for a young man whose life was touch-and-go at one point last year, as Dr Bhadri revealed in the podcast.Dr Bhadri reveals how rare Fine’s type of cancer was – making up less than 1% of adult brain tumours.
One in four young people in Australia will suffer from some kind of mental health issue. But how do you bring up the topic with them?It’s a question many parents agonise over, and one that we tackle in our latest podcast episode of Western Sydney Health Check for NSW Youth Week.Carlie Dodds, clinical psychologist with our Prevention Early Intervention and Response Service, brings expert insight from her role working with young people experiencing severe mental health issues.“Parents often understandably talk about wanting to protect their children, and don’t realise that also quite often their children are trying to protect them and don’t want to worry them,” Carlie says.“The most important thing to tell parents is to ask the question… opening the dialogue in a way that feels safe for the young person.”Carlie offers furthers tips and insight, and is joined by WSLHD Youth Council member Jessica Lam, who shares her perspective as a Gen Z entering the workforce in the midst of a pandemic.Jess discusses the benefits and drawbacks of growing up with social media, and her thoughts on how to improve inter-generational communication about mental health.We also hear from western Sydney teenagers about what the Youth Week theme ‘together more than ever’ means to them, and what picks them up when they’re feeling down.Listen to the episode now and catch up on previous episodes here.If this episode raises any issues for you, you can call Lifeline for free personal support at any time on 13 11 14.To find out more about the mental health services available for you or someone else in need, call the Mental Health Line at any time on 1800 011 511.In an emergency, please call triple zero (000) immediately or go to a hospital emergency department.
Western Sydney is home to Australia’s tallest health building – the Central Acute Services Building at Westmead Hospital – and we’re celebrating its official opening in this week’s Western Sydney Health Check podcast.NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard visited on Monday 22 March to open Westmead Hospital’s new 14-storey medical tower–a $1 billion investment in western Sydney.WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy discusses what this landmark project means for our fast-growing community and the future of health research and innovation. One of the many jewels in the CASB is the dedicated trauma ward that has now been running for three weeks.Westmead Hospital’s head of trauma Dr Jeremy Hsu explains what this advancement means for trauma care in western Sydney, and nurse unit manager of the ward Britney Raj shares what it’s like caring for patients with multiple life-threatening injuries.“These are life-changing events; it’s such a significant part of their story and we’re a part of that,” Britney said.“Just taking that 10 minutes out to sit and listen to someone creates such a difference in their care and how they recover. It is a challenge for everyone […] sometimes people don’t speak very nicely to them, sometimes they’re a shoulder to cry on, and the nurses just have to adapt to whatever may come through the doors.”Listen to the latest episode here and new episodes are released every Thursday.
Associate Professor Nirmala Pathmanathan - the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute Executive Director - delves into spotting the signs and treating breast cancer and Carol Boulous shares her story of survival.How to check for breast cancer:National Breast Cancer FoundationBreast Cancer Network AustraliaSydney Breast Cancer FoundationMcGrath FoundationFor location of clinics in greater Western Sydney, head to the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute.For more information, please visit:BreastScreen NSWThe signs and symptoms of breast cancer
It was a typically busy day in Westmead Hospital’s emergency department when administration officer Elizabeth Rasmussen suddenly felt severely unwell.“It was like an atomic bomb was going to go off in my head, there was just nothing like it,” she said.A quick check from a colleague revealed her blood pressure was through the roof, prompting an urgent visit to her GP and follow-up care from powerhouse Westmead Hospital cardiologist Professor Clara Chow.Elizabeth and Prof Chow both join us on the latest episode of Western Sydney Health Check for an episode exploring all things heart health.Prof Chow talks about the latest cutting-edge research taking place at Westmead Hospital, and why western Sydney has higher rates of heart disease, while Elizabeth shares her own treatment journey and the healthy changes she’s made.The 26-year veteran of emergency administration also shares the special bond she has with Westmead Hospital through her daughter, who was born prematurely and spent time in neonatal intensive care.
Despite having two heart procedures in one week, Gloria Ring is counting her blessings.We took our microphone to the bedside of  the 76-year-old Northmead resident for a special podcast episode to capture the reality of a hospital stay — complete with a few interruptions from a cleaner hard at work in the bathroom!Gloria talks about what brought her into hospital, praises the care she's received from the "wonderful" staff and even compliments the "beautiful" food.She also reminisces on raising four boys in Seven Hills, and as we look forward to Valentine's Day, shares a few tips from 50+ years of marriage.
Mention Australia to people overseas and one of the first things that comes up is our array of deadly snakes and giant spiders. But how worried should we actually be?Clinical and forensic toxicologist Professor Naren Gunja joins us on this episode to shed some light on the creepy crawlies found across Sydney.Naren talks about the death adders, brown snakes and funnel-web spiders you might encounter in Sydney, and shares tips on how to avoid getting bitten.He also explains the science behind venom and the different, terrifying effects they can have — as well as the Aussie research that's saving lives.Naren explains what to do if you do get bitten, as well as what not to do, and also why you shouldn't eat wild mushrooms.If you are worried about something you've eaten, or maybe something that's taken a bite out of you, call the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. In an emergency always call Triple Zero (000).
Carol Wilson never has to buy her husband Ian another Christmas gift.The doting wife gave her partner of more than 40 years the incredible gift of a kidney — just in time for Christmas for Ian, a local shopping centre Santa.Carol and Ian join us on this episode to discuss how they made the decision and the "phenomenal" care they received from Western Sydney Local Health District every step of the way.They also share some advice for any couples seeking to emulate their wonderful love story.
December 12 marked 20 years since the first nurse practitioners (NPs) were endorsed in Australia. There are now over 2,000 around the country, including more than 30 in Western Sydney Local Health District — but what exactly is an NP?Joining us to answer this question is transplant nurse practitioner Kathy Kable and sexual health nurse practitioner Donna Tilley.Kathy was the first NP at Westmead Hospital and has been the main carer for many people who have benefited from life-saving or life-extending organ transplants. Her expertise allows her to prescribe medication; a vital component of care for ongoing wellbeing post-transplant.Donna is the only sexual health NP in the state and works closely with people from many backgrounds, addressing not only their physical health but also the mental, emotional and social concerns that go along with it.To learn more about what it takes to become an NP, check out the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners.
A landmark report in 2005 revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shorter life expectancies and are more like to die in childhood, along with other gaps compared to non-Aboriginal Australians.How have we progressed in the 15 years since toward closing the gap?In this episode we speak to WSLHD Aboriginal Health Strategy director Braiden Abala and Aboriginal Mental Health clinical lead John Fetuani about the challenges and successes in Western Sydney.The pair also reflect on what NAIDOC Day means to them, particularly this year's theme of Always Was, Always Will Be.Learn more about the influential Aboriginal people they discuss.Eddie Mabo: Oodgeroo Noonuccal: Uniapon: Charles Perkins:
Eight Australians die by suicide every day. More than twice as many Australians die by suicide each year than in car crashes. For every person who dies by suicide an additional 30 will try to take their life.This is the confronting reality that inspires the Towards Zero Suicides (TZS) project, a NSW Premier’s priority initiative to reduce the rate of suicide deaths in NSW by 20 per cent by 2023.Driving that work within Western Sydney Local Health District is Rowena Saheb, the TZS mental health project officer who joins us on the latest episode of Western Sydney Health Check.Rowena is also a national R U OK? ambassador who uses her own lived experience of suicide to inform her work and advocate for change in Western Sydney.In this episode, Rowena talks about the three main suicide prevention projects underway in WSLHD, and offers advice on how we can all become community champions using the R U OK? conversation starter tips.If this story or the podcast raises any issues for you, you can call Lifeline for free personal support at any time on 13 11 14.To find out more about the mental health services available for you or someone else in need, call the Mental Health Line at any time on 1800 011 511.In an emergency, please call triple zero (000) immediately or go to a hospital emergency department.
When seven-year-old Deyaan Udani learned about organ donation at school, he was excited to share the news with his father Rupesh.None of them could have imagined that just months later a sudden tragedy would claim the young boy's life — and leave his parents with the heartbreaking choice to honour their son's wish and give four others a second chance at life.In this emotional episode, Rupesh shares his story and how he has since dedicated his free time to raising awareness of organ and tissue donation.He is joined by Blacktown Hospital intensive care specialist Dr Dhaval Ghelani, who explains the process of organ donation and addresses people's concerns and misconceptions.Read more about Saffron Day and sign up to become an organ and tissue donor here:
Do mozzies like sweeter blood? Do they transmit COVID-19? Is it only female mosquitoes that bite?These are the kinds of questions ‘Mosquito Man’ Dr Cameron Webb gets regularly, and breaks down for us on the latest episode of Western Sydney Health Check.As the weather begins to warm, Dr Webb warns that mosquito numbers will rise and provides some tips on protecting yourself from the annoying bites.He also explains why he's one of the only people to willingingly get bitten by these airborne nuisances.
Dementia affects close to half a million Australians. Yet despite the stigma, it is possible to enjoy a rich and active lifestyle for years after diagnosis.In this episode we speak to Geetika Dayal, whose mother has early onset dementia, and WSLHD dementia advisor Sue Tolhurst.Geetika speaks about the reality of her mother's condition and how it has been for her father to transition from partner to carer after 46 years of marriage.She also discusses the importance of looking after your own health and wellbeing as a carer.Sue shares what support is available for carers from groups including Dementia Australia and the WSLHD Dementia Advisory Service.For support, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
We welcome our first return guest this episode in Dr Shopna Bag, director of the Public Health Unit in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).Dr Bag and her team have led the incredible contact tracing efforts in Western Sydney, interviewing every one of our 500+ COVID-19 patients to find out how they caught disease and who they might have passed it onto.In this interview she delivers expert insight into how NSW managed to cope better with the 'second wave' of infections in July compared to the first spike in March.Dr Bag also directly addresses the accusations that we 'overreacted' in our response to a disease that has now claimed nearly one million lives worldwide.She speaks personally about the highs and lows of working with patients during this stressful time, what she's learned about herself this year, and why she loves working in public health.
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