Patient navigation may not be a term you’re familiar with, but its most fundamental role is one that anyone can appreciate—a helping hand during a time of need. Patient navigation serves as a bridge between the patient and their family/caregivers and the medical system. The navigator helps identify and eliminate barriers that could prevent a patient from getting the right care at the right time by the right person. The role can also include brainstorming solutions regarding transportation, how to talk to a family member about the disease or providing applicable education about the health care system.
At Rothman Specialty Hospital we are proud of the role our nurse patient navigator Barbara Fischer plays ensuring our CyberKnife cancer patients have an exceptional experience. Barbara, a registered nurse, brings more than 30 years of experience to the position. She is responsible for coordinating all aspects of each patient’s care, from the first exploratory phone call about CyberKnife through treatment and follow-up care. Successful patient navigators such as Barbara also show a great sensitivity toward the patients that they serve.
“Having lost both my parents to cancer,” Barbara says, “I know how important it is for the patient navigator to be an advocate for the patient, guiding them through the health care system during a time of need.”
During these exploratory meetings, Barbara works one on one with the patient and their family or caretaker to carefully assess their individual needs. This introspection allows Barbara to anticipate each patient’s needs and provide the best guidance for the patient to navigate the health care system. In each case, Barbara’s ultimate goal is to provide each and every patient with the most appropriate form of care in a timely manner. Additionally, Barbara provides educational resources and support for the patients and their caregivers so that they better understand the treatment process.
For many CyberKnife patients, a conversation with Barbara on the phone or in person is their first step in treatment. This was the case for Richard, an 81-year-old CyberKnife patient who was treated for lung cancer at Rothman Specialty Hospital. Richard first contacted Barbara to discuss an ad for CyberKnife he had seen in a local publication. “From the beginning Barbara put me at ease,” Richard says, “and I saw that I had no worries in this process.”
After Barbara and the oncology staff at Rothman Specialty Hospital determined Richard to be a prime CyberKnife candidate, he received an orientation tour followed by a consult with Eric Gressen, M.D., a radiation oncologist and CyberKnife treatment specialist who deals specifically with prostate and lung cancers.
“This was a fantastic experience for me and I have nothing but positive things to say about the team and their operative capabilities,” Richard says. “This is one of the best multidisciplinary teams I’ve ever seen. They were marvelous.”
Barbara has also been instrumental in identifying solutions for cancer patients such as Pete who may have additional needs such as height and weight considerations. After receiving a diagnosis of Stage 1 prostate cancer, Pete and his wife thoroughly researched his options for treatment, visiting a number of CyberKnife facilities in the Pennsylvania area looking for a facility that could accommodate his size of 300 pounds.
His search eventually led him to Rothman Specialty Hospital where he and his wife spoke with Barbara. Pete shared his Stage 1 prostate cancer diagnosis along with his height and weight considerations with Barbara and she assured him that these issues could be easily accommodated at Rothman Specialty Hospital.
“This was a well-thought-out decision for me and ultimately a simple one to make,” Pete says. “The people I met at Rothman Specialty Hospital were very much a part of why I made my decision, and they made sure that I received the royal treatment.”
The treatment Pete received at Rothman Specialty Hospital went beyond what some would consider typical. In order to accommodate the claustrophobia he felt during the CT scan, Pete’s oncologist Dr. Gressen, Barbara, and Lori and Kathy—two technicians at Rothman Specialty Hospital—stayed in the room so that he remained comfortable throughout the process. The consideration shown by the Rothman Specialty staff played a major role in keeping Pete feeling calm.
“I believe that any decision regarding your health is a personal one,” Pete says, “but a large part of my positive experience at Rothman Specialty Hospital was the compassion of the staff and their ability to help keep me calm and consistently apprised of the situation at all times.”
While patient navigation may be a role, it is people such as Barbara who provide the most sincere definition of assistance in a time of need.
“I see myself as an advocate of self-empowerment,” she says. “It’s very important that I am respectful of the patient’s needs and desires because it is the patient who ultimately decides the path of their care.”
Benefits of a Patient Navigator:
* Safe, effective and efficient patient- and family-centric care
* Sensitivity to physical, emotional, informational, cultural, spiritual and learning needs
* Individualized approach to health care
* Improved patient safety and satisfaction
CyberKnife at Rothman Specialty Hospital
3300 Tillman Drive
Bensalem, PA 19020