Nurse navigators serve as guides for cancer patients
You don’t have to face breast cancer alone. In addition to the support from family members and loved ones, breast health nurse navigators are specially trained professionals who help alleviate the fear and confusion of a cancer diagnosis by guiding patients through all stages of the treatment and recovery process.
OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital assigns a breast health nurse navigator to every woman from the moment she receives an abnormal screening, all the way through and post-treatment. The breast health nurse navigator program has reduced the time from detection of an abnormality to diagnosis of breast cancer by half that of the national average.
Patients also benefit by the added comfort of seeing the familiar face of their nurse navigator every time they come to the hospital. Breast health nurse navigators are there to educate patients about all aspects of their condition. With nurse navigators to assist them, patients always know what the next step will be in their treatment and recovery.
Breast health navigators help you make appointments, understand your test results, cope with chemotherapy and talk with your physicians. They also connect you with resources for support groups, wigs and other supplies, financial assistance, transportation and nutritional advice.
They coordinate your care among the different physician specialists and make sure you understand and follow your care plan. In short, they are there not only to help you survive, but thrive.
Advances in cancer treatment have saved millions of lives, but they have also been responsible for complex treatment decisions and follow-up options that did not exist in the past. Some studies have indicated that patients with nurse navigators are more compliant with their care plans and have better outcomes.
Nurse navigators are part of a growing field of specialists helping patients absorb a barrage of information during one of the most stressful times in their lives when they might hear only a fraction of what their physicians tell them. If that’s the case, the navigators can answer many of the questions patients forget to ask their physicians.
Emotional support is one of the most important services provided by nurse navigators. Because they spend so much time with their patients, they become close to them and their family members. Patients often express fears and concerns with their nurse navigators that they are reluctant to share with anyone else.
More than a dozen breast health navigators work throughout the OhioHealth system in central Ohio, and their work has been so successful at Grady Memorial that the hospital intends to employ nurse navigators for other cancers besides breast cancer.
Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can be overwhelming. Nurse navigators empower patients with knowledge and cut through the confusion to help patients take one step at a time toward a successful outcome.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Schedule your mammogram today. Call 614–566-1111 or 877–566-1112.
Freda Clark, RN, BSN, OCN, is a certified oncology nurse at OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital.