Navigating Your Care

Nurse happily explaining paperwork to older woman

After hearing the words "you have cancer," trying to find the next steps to navigate your health care can be very overwhelming. Our patient navigators and multidisciplinary nurse navigators help guide you in the right direction to ensure you're being cared for in the best possible way.

 

Patient Navigator

For a new cancer patient, there is an overwhelming amount of new information that may raise questions. Cancer patients may have multiple physicians with different roles in their care plan, appointments, diagnoses, treatments and side effects – all without a clear sense of what resources and support might be available to assist them on their treatment journey.

The primary role of the patient navigator is to greet new patients and explain to them how the James Graham Brown Cancer Center works, help them get acclimated and understand what will happen next.  Having a designated position of patient navigator to fulfill this role is particularly important to cancer patients, who are already shell-shocked with the news of their diagnosis.  Many may also be on unfamiliar terrain coming from another city or state to get the care available at the Brown Cancer Center. In addition to helping new patients get oriented, the patient navigator also helps in the cancer clinic setting with current patients.

Patient Navigator Sandy Stevens, RN, is a Louisville native and mother of four children, received her nursing degree from University of Louisville, and has previously worked as an oncology nurse in both pediatric and adult settings. She said she tries to emphasize to her patients that “no question is dumb, that if it is important to them it is important to us. I want them to know that they can call me or any of the Brown Cancer Center staff – anyone, anytime for anything.

“I want to ensure they have a good experience and help things run smoothly,” she said.  According to Sandy, “This position really needs someone who is welcoming and open to situations and who genuinely cares about the quality of the patient’s experience. I want them to feel like ‘this person will help me.’”

If you have any questions about the Patient Navigation program, please feel free to contact us at 502-217-8276.

 

 

Multidisciplinary Nurse Navigator

The nurse navigator role was developed within the creation of the multidisciplinary clinic program primarily to address patient needs throughout the care continuum.  Each disease-specific multidisciplinary cancer clinic has a nurse navigator who manages the complex care processes from the time of diagnosis, through the treatment phase, and post recovery phase for each individual patient.  This individual is often the first contact for the diagnosed patient and is seen as the “dot connector” for ongoing care.  The objective is to reduce gaps in the care process, streamlining care, while the patient moves from one discipline to the next.

Besides being responsible for the operational clinic flow, the nurse navigator plays a major role in conducting the weekly team conferences in which the specialists meet discussing each new patient and developing a team consensus for treating each individual patient. These patients are often seeking second opinions when they have progressed through standard treatment regimens offered at their local hospital or physician office.  The navigator will obtain pertinent records and recent pathology to give an updated patient history.

Barb Kruse RN,OCN,M.Ed is the director of all the multidisciplinary cancer clinics and nurse navigators. Kruse has a master's degree in counseling with an emphasis on chronic illness and she has more than 30 years of oncology experience. Her background encompasses medical, surgical, radiation, and pediatric oncology.