Jordan Hospital Club Cancer Center has added a nurse navigator to its patient services as a way to help cancer patients and their families make complex decisions on care.
Marcia Brightman, RN, OCN, will serve as a full-time Oncology Nurse Navigator in the Cancer Center, according to a release from the hospital.
Brightman has worked as an Oncology Nurse at Jordan Hospital since 1993. As the Oncology Nurse Navigator. The Navigator serves as the single point of contact that can be there with the patient every step of the way.
“When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, he or she can become overwhelmed. Undergoing various treatments and dealing with healthcare professionals from different specialties like radiologists, pharmacists, and oncologists can be a lot to handle” says Lesley Cunningham, Director, Cancer Services. “Having a full time Nurse Navigator whose focus is to walk patients and their families through the treatment process is critical today; given how complicated it can be to navigate the healthcare system.
According to an August 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal, patient navigators are becoming more popular in hospitals as decisions on treatment become more complex.
At no additional charge, navigators help patients make informed medical decisions and assist with setting up multiple doctors' appointments and tests. Navigators also provide tips on dealing with chemotherapy, make sure patients stay on track with their treatment plan and offer emotional support.
Depending on the hospital, navigators might be nurses, social workers or other staffers certified through programs that include training in care coordination, motivational interviewing skills, and cultural sensitivity. They have access to patient medical records and treating physicians. They can also run interference on insurance issues, help with translation for non-English speakers and even make sure patients have a ride to the doctor's office....
Hospitals around the country have been adding patient-navigation services in recent years, helped by funding from governments and private groups. The Commission on Cancer, part of the American College of Surgeons, issued new standards this year that will require cancer centers to offer patient-navigation services by 2015 to meet accreditation requirements.
Studies have shown that navigation services increase participation in cancer screening and adherence to follow-up care, according to the WSJ:
Data from a five-year study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and involving thousands of patients, are being analyzed to determine the benefits of patient navigation to groups including racial and ethnic minorities, who often don't get early screening and face multiple barriers to timely and effective care.
Brightman is responsible for planning and educating patients and families about their individual cancer diagnosis and treatment options. More specifically:
- Supporting and navigating each patient through treatment by reinforcing education and coordinating information and care with a team of physicians and allied healthcare professionals
- Participating in weekly cancer conferences with physicians, genetic counselors, and nurses to discuss and determine the best treatment plan for each newly diagnosed patient with cancer
- Facilitating support groups and programs and referring patients to appropriate cancer support programs and resources in their communities
- Teaching about cancer prevention, screening guidelines, diagnosis, treatment options, and the importance of early detection
In addition to the Cancer Center Nurse Navigator, Jordan Hospital’s Breast Center established a full-time Breast Health Nurse Navigator in 2009.