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Nurse navigators help patients find the care they need

​Originally created more than 20 years ago to help reduce patient barriers to healthcare, patient navigation now includes not only helping patients find the best treatment, but following patients along the care continuum, from diagnosis to survivorship.

While the concept is not new, CU Cancer Center did not have a nurse navigator until five years ago when it hired one focused on breast cancer. Three years later, as patient referrals increased, the Center added two more navigators—Banahan, in gastrointestinal cancer, and Christine Frodella, RN, BSN, OCN, in blood cancer and bone marrow transplant.
“We were getting so many new patients, but we weren’t getting them where they needed to be in a timely manner,” Banahan says. “We needed to rein in the program.”
At no additional charge, Banahan and Frodella are the first point of contact for all new patients in their clinics. Beyond scheduling appointments and collecting medical records, they offer tips on dealing with treatment side effects, referrals to support services, and clarity to the treatment plan. In short, as navigators, they provide roadmaps for patients’ cancer journeys.