Patient navigators light the way for cancer patients and their families.
Indian River Medical Center’s oncology patient navigator program seems to have been “hiding its light under a bushel.” While several years have passed since the first navigator came aboard in 2011, there are still those unaware of the service – and what a godsend it can be to those faced with a cancer diagnosis.
The Medical Center’s patient navigation program pairs a patient with a knowledgeable, compassionate professional “navigator” to provide guidance through and around the many barriers in what some have dubbed the “maze” of cancer care. Financial challenges, language and cultural differences, communication problems, and transportation issues are but a few of the obstacles that can seem insurmountable to a patient. Even under the best of circumstances, the innate complexity of the health care system alone can be incredibly daunting to someone who has just heard the words, “You have cancer.”
The oncology navigation program was created to ameliorate or eliminate impediments to proper diagnosis and effective treatment. A navigator’s service to each patient can extend from diagnosis well into recovery. What a navigator does for a patient is highly individualized and need-based. Navigators can work closely with patients and families on everything from dealing with insurance issues and medical paperwork, to finding the best medical and non-medical resources, to understanding treatment and care options. A navigator may accompany a patient on certain visits or counsel and advise caregivers on a number of relevant issues. And the list goes on.