Helping patients with head and neck cancer navigate their treatment
At Adena, we provide nurse navigators to help cancer patients “navigate” through the complex and sometimes confusing journey of battling cancer. Navigators are trained to assist with every step of care – from scheduling appointments, arranging transportation, assisting with financial counseling or just answering questions. The Adena Cancer Center has four specialized patient navigators to assist, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer patients.
Tonya McKee, RN, BSN, head-and-neck cancer nurse navigator
Tonya has been a nurse with Adena Health System for 15 years and became a nurse navigator in June 2012. As a head and neck cancer nurse navigator, she helps patients and their families through the diagnostic evaluation, helps them arrange appointments with specialties involved in their care, and educates and supports them so that they can make the best treatment decisions for them. “I love being the person my patients know they can trust during this overwhelming time,” McKee says. “My favorite part of my job is the individual relationship and bond you form with the patient and their family.”
Q: Is there an additional cost to the patient for the services provided by a nurse navigator?
A: There is no additional cost for our services.
Q: How does a patient get assigned a nurse navigator?
A: When the patient receives a positive diagnosis, the nurse navigator steps in at that time. We will contact you, introduce ourselves and give you all of our contact information so that you can access us any time you need us.
Q: How long will a patient be assigned a nurse navigator?
A: The nurse navigator will support the patient through the entire process – from diagnosis and treatment to survivorship.
Q: What does a head-and-neck cancer nurse navigator do?
A: The nurse navigator helps coordinate physician appointments, surgeries, and follow-up care. They also can give patients information about cancer resources, such as the American Cancer Society.
Many head and neck cancer patients experience pain with swallowing once they begin treatment, so the nurse navigator also will assist with making sure nutritional needs are met, which is crucial to the healing process. If there are any dental problems that need to be addressed before treatment, the nurse navigator can refer patients to dentists.
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