Walking Patients Through Cancer Treatment

By ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jessica Rangel, Vice President of Operations, Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Methodist Dallas Medical Center recently partnered with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and AstraZeneca to provide a comprehensive patient navigator program that helps patients through the cancer treatment maze. The navigator is a cancer education and support specialist who, through a one-on-one relationship, serves as a personal guide to patients and caregivers as they face the psychosocial, emotional, and financial challenges that cancer can bring. The navigator links between patients and medical personnel and assists with scheduling, helping patients understand treatments and procedures, and finding additional resources in the community.

Methodist Dallas was selected to participate in this program primarily because of its demographics. We are second to Parkland Health System in our charity care, spending $92 million last year to cover patients without insurance. Parkland is the only other hospital in the area that offers this program.

At Methodist, cancer patients benefit from two navigators at their sides to help them through their journey. This partnership includes the expertise of a master’s-degreed social worker navigator who helps patients coordinate resources such as transportation, financial aid, support groups, and other nonclinical needs, and a clinical patient navigator RN who helps with medications, dosages, side effects, diagnostic tests, scheduling, and other care coordination issues.

The program makes accessing and understanding care with multiple providers an easier task. Patient navigators support timeliness of care and provide a single point-of-contact.

For clinicians, patient navigators support their abilities to stay focused on patient care in the following ways:

  • Patient navigators know where patients are in the course of treatment and their next steps.

  • They provide copies of tests and results to caregivers prior to clinical appointments.

  • They accompany patients to appointments to help them understand procedures, instructions, and adherence.

  • They serve as a liaison between providers. For example, with breast cancer patients, the navigators are part of the tumor conference that brings all members of the treatment team together to discuss and manage each case.

Our goal is to make it easier for patients and their families when facing a cancer diagnosis. When patients hear the word

“cancer,” they often stop listening at that moment, but questions arise later. Our patient navigators are here to help answer all of those questions and walk them through the process. With the navigators’ help, the road to recovery for patients, their families, and for those who care for them along the way can be much smoother.

To work at Methodist Health System, where taking care of patients, their families, and our employees is the bright spot of our day, visit Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.


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