Any cancer treatment path can be a confusing, overwhelming and complicated maze. The patient has many providers and may deal with many departments within the hospital—a disease specialist, a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist, a surgeon, a pathologist a pharmacist, a dietitian and a therapist. Many of the issues faced are difficult, and many of the decisions that need to be made require the understanding of medical processes and jargon.
The most-patient centered approach to helping patients and families maneuver through all of this is with a Nurse Navigator—a touchstone, a single, dedicated person to be the point-of-contact through the entire course. Patients have the same navigator by their side, coordinating care from the time of diagnosis through treatment and recovery and onto survivorship.
Augusta Health's Cancer Program has two Nurse Navigators, who are both cancer survivors themselves. Donna Berdeaux works with patients who have Breast Cancer, and Megan Howell navigates for patients with Lung and Digestive Cancer. Both assist patients through diagnostic testing, biopsies, clinic visits and the treatment process. The patients serve as patient advocates to answer questions and address concerns. If the patient needs a support service such as rehab or counseling, the navigator facilitates the referral or connects them with a community resource. Most importantly, the navigators sit with patients as they wait for the results of their latest tests, greet them when arrive for chemotherapy or call them after surgery to check in.
Donna and Megan provide an invaluable blessing for patients and their families. They appreciate the navigator's expertise, but even more significantly, the patients gain strength from the emotional connection made during a vulnerable time. Donna and Megan provide the best personalized care—and human touch—possible.