Patient navigation is individualized assistance offered to patients, families and caregivers and designed to help overcome any barriers and facilitate timely access to medical and psychosocial care from pre-diagnosis through survivorship. The navigation team is made up of registered nurses, social workers and dieticians who focus one-hundred percent of their time working with cancer patients. Patient navigators are playing an even more important role during the COVID-19 pandemic when patients’ needs for resources have risen. Here are some of the benefits patient navigation can offer:
When a navigator first meets with a patient, they will assess and identify any medical or psychosocial needs the patient may have. They will then provide appropriate information on community resources, support groups and educational programs to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
“I feel really comfortable talking to you about all of the things going on during my husband’s treatment. I feel you’re not going to judge me for saying what I feel.” – A patient’s wife on her experience with a navigator
Members of the navigation team can help educate patients, family members and caregivers on cancer diagnosis, treatment, side effects and clinical trials. When a patient is receiving information from various specialists, navigators can help reinforce all of the instructions and information. The Cancer Center’s dieticians, who are part of the navigation department, can also step in and help address nutritional needs, assist with symptom management and improve the nutritional status of patients before, during and after treatment.
“I really appreciate you checking in. It means a lot.” – Patient after a check-in phone call with a navigator
Patient navigators also help remove any barriers throughout the cancer journey. For example, if a navigator determines a patient needs help getting to and from treatment, they will help coordinate transportation.
“I sometimes struggle to find good moments, but the help I received with transportation is one of them.” – Patient after receiving a ride to their treatment
Navigators can also coordinate to ensure patients’ timely access to support services, appointments, tests and procedures. It provides each patient a support person who can connect them with anything they need within the Cancer Center and community. Navigators are able to enhance communication between various service providers between doctor visits.
“I appreciate you.” – Patient after receiving an appointment graph to help keep track of their treatments
Cancer can be a challenge for patients, families and their caregivers. The fear and anxiety of the unknown can be difficult. A navigator offers a kind, empathetic ear can pick up on emotional cues and can help guide a patient through important conversations to figure out how they can be best supported.
“I had no idea how we were going to make it through this difficult time. Thank you for providing us with all of this support.” – Patient
At Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, in conjunction with our hospital partners, every patient has access to patient navigators at no cost, thanks to the generosity of donors. If you would like to speak to someone from the patient navigation team, please contact them today.
Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center: (225) 215-1126
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Covington: (985) 898-4581
Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center: (985) 850-6309