Nurse Navigator to Support Patients on Health Care Journey

June 16, 2021
Breast care center

Cancer is complex and often treatment takes a multi-disciplinarian team of experts. This is especially true of breast care. Though the journey is different for each patient, it often involves care coordination with many specialty providers.

Whether a mass detected during a self-exam or an abnormality is revealed during an annual mammogram, patients often require additional imaging or a biopsy to gain a better understanding. Depending upon what is discovered, surgery may be needed with one of the general surgeons at Mercy Surgical Associates. Following surgery, pathology will be needed to determine if the mass is cancerous. If cancer is found the patient may need to undergo adjunctive treatments including medical or radiation oncology.

When facing a cancer diagnosis, patients may struggle to manage the needed care coordination outlined above, in addition to understanding medical terminology, locating resources and knowing which questions to ask. With what is best for our patients at the forefront of all we do, Mercy Hospital is pleased to announce the recent addition of a nurse navigator who will walk beside our breast care patients, assist with care coordination and provide a listening ear.

A position first introduced in the 1990s by Dr. Harold Freeman, the nurse navigator serves as the liaison between the patient and their clinical care team.

Diné Campbell, longtime RN in Mercy Hospital’s Family Birth Center NICU, has been selected to fill the role. Chosen from an outstanding group of applicants, following her selection Diné completed specialty training with other nurse navigators across our connected ecosystem before beginning patient care on June 14.

“Diné is eager to work with patients and providers to help provide comprehensive care,” explained general surgeon Brigid O’Holleran, MD, who was an active participant in the hiring process for the position. “In addition to the existing services at Mercy Hospital which provide comprehensive breast care, the nurse navigator will play a key role to streamline communication between patients and providers.”

In her role, Diné will facilitate timely access to appropriate health care and resources for patients. She will provide whole person care, empowering patients with education and knowledge about their illness. Diné will work closely with the patients’ multi-disciplinary team serving as a patient advocate, educator, counselor and help to coordinate care. She will also connect patients with further resources available in our community.

“Through the entire patient journey, the nurse navigator will be involved,” said. Dr. O’Holleran. “The support begins in the diagnostic phase and carries on through the treatment and post-treatment surveillance phases.”

Diné will also play an active role following the patient’s treatment in what is referred to as the “survivorship phase” by staying in contact with breast cancer survivors and aiding in ensuring breast health surveillance continues.

“I feel so excited and grateful to have this opportunity to serve our breast care patients,” Diné said. “I realize that the medical system can be a complex maze for patients to find their way through, particularly when under duress of a life-changing diagnosis such as breast cancer. I believe that many years and a variety of experience in the health care system has prepared me to remember to see patients as complex individuals, as opposed to simply a cancer diagnosis. I look forward to providing the empathy, support and guidance to assist patients with this journey.”

The benefits of having access to a nurse navigator are many as studies have shown that a nurse navigator increases patient satisfaction, decreases patient anxiety, decreases length of stay in a medical facility, reduces treatment delays and improves the patient’s overall quality of life.

In addition to her work to hire a nurse navigator, Dr. O’Holleran, who is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, is working closely with senior leaders to further evaluate the current services available as part of Mercy Hospital’s Breast Service Line and identify any gaps that may exist. For example, the addition of prosthetics may enable Mercy to provide more complete, whole person care to our breast care patients.

Dr. O’Holleran concludes with this important message:

“I want to encourage women to get their annual breast exams and other health screenings. These screenings are necessary for cancer prevention as well as early detection and treatment.”