April 2012

Nurse Navigators: A Personal Resource for Cancer Patients

For cancer patients, the journey from diagnosis to treatment and recovery can be a marathon of physical and emotional peaks and valleys. Fortunately, many are finding that the support and guidance they need is right here at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH). Each year, specialized clinicians known as nurse navigators provide connectivity, wisdom and resources for nearly 600 patients with a breast, prostate or pancreatic related condition or cancer.

In 1996, NCH was among the pioneers that first introduced a nurse navigator role to the hospital setting. Since then, this unique, patient-centered service has expanded to include three breast navigators, a pancreas navigator and a prostate navigator. Each navigator is a registered nurse, and some are advance practice nurses with many years of experience in their respective clinical specialties.

"Our nurse navigators serve as a personal resource for patients, complementing the expertise and skills of the physicians overseeing the cancer care plan," says Keith Ammons, director of Cancer Services at NCH. "Patients highly value the navigators and take comfort knowing that a member of the cancer team will personally walk them through major decisions, explain treatment options and address any concerns that may arise."

Golf Classic Supports Nurse Navigators

The NCH Foundation is hosting the 15th Annual Golf Classic fundraiser on July 16, at the Medinah Country Club.

This year's proceeds will benefit NCH's Nurse Navigator Program.

Visit for more information and to register online

For one patient with prostate cancer, his search for a second opinion lead him to Prostate Nurse Navigator Juli Aistars, RN, APN. In a written statement he says "it really helped to talk to different physicians and I am more confident in my decision to have surgery because of it."

Ammons adds that the navigators contribute to cancer care in more ways than one, pointing out that their community outreach and cancer advocacy efforts. Throughout the year, the navigators serve as health and wellness educators in the community, conduct research studies, publish reports and articles, and collaborate with the Hospital's oncology social worker in leading cancer support groups.

Breast Nurse Navigators Christine Masonick, RN, BSN, ONC; Sandra Hoffman, RNC, MSN, APN; and Lauren Kane, RN, BSN, recently presented a retrospective study to evaluate estrogen positive breast cancer patients' adherence to hormonal medication therapy. Findings indicated that 25% of patients would have liked more education before starting medication. As a result, the breast nurse navigators are increasing their education and follow-up efforts to enhance the patient experience and to raise medication compliance.

To learn more about the Hospital's Nurse Navigator Program, click here, or medical staff members can contact Keith Ammons at 847.618.5565.