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A letter from Deb Willcox

When most people think about our hospitals, they think about our emergency departments and our specialist services like major surgery and intensive care. While this is a critical part of what we do, the Northern Sydney Local Health District also offers a wide variety of programs and initiatives, both in our hospitals and through community outreach, that provide holistic support and wellbeing to our patients, their families and loved ones.

As Chief Executive of the Northern Sydney Local Health District, I am proud to be part of a health service that takes a personalised approach to care and prioritises patient wellbeing.

If you’re grateful for the care that you or your loved ones have received at one of our hospitals, I hope that you will consider making a tax-deductible gift to support our 2022 tax appeal.

Providing a good patient experience is at the heart of everything we do and often this goes beyond just immediate medical care. For us, the general well-being, rehabilitation and mental health of everyone is just as important as the medical treatment we provide.

Our hospitals and healthcare services offer a wide variety of programs including specialist services for vulnerable families and for children with complex behavioural and emotional mental health difficulties. We also provide a diverse range of options including art therapy, music therapy, exercise groups and animal assisted therapy to help people living with mental illness.

Your wonderful support in the past has helped us to provide high-quality patient care to people in a variety of innovative ways. Your donation today can help support our holistic healthcare services and patient wellbeing programs.

Our animal therapy dog program is one way in which we provide innovative services to our patients. A few weeks ago, Ella, the animal therapy dog and her owner Penny, were allowed back to visit the mental health acute ward at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It was incredible to see Ella brighten up the ward again and bring joy to patients.

Animal assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from
or better cope with health problems while still receiving care in hospital.

There is evidence that animal assisted therapy can enhance the treatment experience for patients by:

• Reducing stress

• Providing comfort and a distraction from pain

• Increasing motivation towards activities such as exercise or social interaction

Our hospitals also support thousands of people every year through rehabilitation services that enable patients to return home following severe illness or injury, such as stroke, trauma or spinal injury. Our highly skilled staff work with our patients to give them the very best chance to live an independent life. By utilising outdoor gyms, ADL Suites (rooms in our hospitals that imitate a regular household kitchen, bathroom or laundry) or even a rehabilitation car that patients can practice getting in and out of, we are focused on helping our patients return home safely and with greater confidence.

Your donation will help us support patients through their treatment and on their journey home.

Your gift can also help us improve our speciality services that provide crucial interventions, educational training and short-term residential accommodation for families with children experiencing mental health issues and trauma such as Coral Tree Family Service.

Coral Tree is the only service of its kind in Australia. It is a resource-intensive service where families-in-need can be referred to participate in a more in-depth assessment or take part in a four-night residential admission. This provides a personalised approach to meet the family’s specific needs.

Families stay at Coral Tree at times of struggle and hardship. It provides crucial support to the families of children with complex, severe or longstanding behavioural, emotional and mental health difficulties.

The service involves a combination of family therapy and attachment-informed interventions.

A multi-disciplinary team of professionals, including psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, carer peer workers, and child psychiatrists work together to run individual and group sessions with families. The Coral Tree staff strive to create an environment that is safe and comfortable while also providing much-needed assistance and guidance to help the family understand underlying issues or trauma experienced by the child.

Currently, Coral Tree is in high demand and we are looking to increase the number of families that it can help, improve the facilities and provide more wellbeing initiatives for the families.

You can help us enhance crucial mental health and family services like Coral Tree by making a donation to our tax appeal today.

Services like Coral Tree and our animal assisted therapy exist to provide specialised care to members of the community who need it the most. You can also read these stories featuring people and patients in our community to learn more about some of these services.

Your gift to our tax appeal will provide crucial support to our healthcare services and outreach programs that are delivering life-saving and life-changing care to our community.

If you would like to make a donation, please click here.

On behalf of our staff within the Northern Sydney Local Health District and the NORTH Foundation, thank you for continuing to support our services.

Best wishes,


Deb Willcox
Chief Executive
Northern Sydney Local Health District


PS The NORTH Foundation has made a few changes to its information which are relevant to our donors so please click here to find out more.

PPS I encourage you to check out our new regular giving program, ‘Hospital Helping Hands’ and join our community of regular givers.

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*All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

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