Mountainside Navigator Guides Patients through Breast Cancer Treatment

August 3, 2010 12:32 PM

The Cancer Center at Mountainside Hospital, a comprehensive care facility accredited with commendation by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, will place even greater emphasis on support for breast cancer patients with the establishment of a formalized patient navigator program.   
 The title of patient navigator is new to Mountainside and one being embraced by leading cancer centers nationwide. However, the core services associated with the position have been provided at Mountainside for some time by Kathy Furniss, A.P.N.-C, a certified nurse practitioner who recently enhanced her credentials with the successful completion of a nationally recognized, continuing education program in patient navigation. Her credentials also include certification as a breast cancer nurse by the Oncology Nursing Society.
 “Outcomes for breast cancer patients are constantly improving. However, in some cases, effective treatment is a prolonged process involving the care of multiple physicians with varied specialties, as well as other health care professionals,” said Dr. Robert Zager, Director of the Mountainside Cancer Center. “The patient navigator can play an invaluable role in helping to keep patients focused on their recovery.”
 “The patient navigator concept complements our multidisciplinary, team approach to cancer care and supports our goal of achieving the best possible patient outcomes and the highest level of patient comfort and satisfaction,” Dr. Zager said.
 The role of patient navigator, often described as an advocate, champion or ombudsman, is sometimes filled by a social worker or case manager. However, the use of a nurse practitioner at Mountainside Hospital affords patients a reliable, consistent contact who can answer technical questions about their treatment, as well as provide emotional support and work with insurers to expedite review and approval of coverage for necessary procedures.
 All patients who have positive breast cancer biopsies at Mountainside are referred to the navigator.  “Each breast cancer patient copes with her diagnosis and treatment differently, so I assess how I can best serve specific, individual needs and respond accordingly,” said Kathy Furniss. “My role is to ensure comprehensive care through outreach to the patient and her family, her doctors and anyone who can support her journey with practical or emotional assistance.”
Dr. Silvia Fresco, a leading surgeon who practices at Mountainside, encourages her patients to take full advantage of the navigator program. “The navigator helps doctors with case management and provides a value-added service for breast cancer patients who are under both physical and emotional stress,” said Dr. Fresco.
“The navigator is qualified to answer some medical questions when doctors aren’t available. She can also match patients and their families with useful resources within the hospital and the community,” she said.   
At Mountainside Hospital, world-class physicians treat a wide range of medical conditions using cutting-edge technologies. Patients have immediate access to innovative and effective treatment alternatives at specialized centers within the hospital that focus on women’s health, cancer care, cardiac care, bariatric surgery, stroke, outpatient diagnostics, dialysis, and other needs.  Mountainside Hospital has been serving community health needs since 1891. Today, the 365-bed private hospital delivers personalized care while also functioning as a learning center via its nursing school and residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine and dentistry.



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