Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer of men and women combined, but it doesn’t have to be. Screening helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.
The Downeast Cancer Patient Navigation Project, a collaborative grant between the Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center and Healthy Acadia, funded by Maine Cancer Foundation, began in November 2016. The program reduces barriers to care in Washington County, a region of high need. It consists of two part-time patient navigators to cover the county: Marianne Moore who serves from Eastport north, and Angela Fochesato who serves from Lubec south.
You may be wondering what exactly is a patient navigator? In the fall of 2016 a community assessment in Washington Country identified cancer as a top health issue to be addressed, including concerns around high rates of cancer, difficulties navigating the system, a lack of people who can advocate for and support patients, limited communication/awareness about available services, transportation challenges, limited early detection, and limited education. Having a patient-centered navigation system ensures that each patient’s healthcare needs are appropriately and effectively addressed and empower the patient to be in control of their healthcare, thereby improving patient outcomes and reducing mortality.
What can a patient navigator do for someone newly diagnosed with cancer? A patient navigator addresses barriers including, but not limited to: financial/economic assistance, health/healthcare literacy, health insurance navigation, access to transportation, connection to social/support networks and systems, and access to resources that support healthy diets and lifestyle habits to complement individual treatment and recovery protocols. They work directly with patients to navigate the healthcare system and access appropriate diagnostic, treatment, recovery and financial services.
For this month's Challenge Cancer 2020 package, our partners at WMTW-TV interview Maine Cancer Foundation's Grantee, Southern Maine Healthcare, whose Patient Navigators are making a huge impact in the lives of cancer patients in Maine as they navigate their diagnosis and continuum of care. Click here to watch the video.
What is patient navigation?
Maine Cancer Foundation believes that from the moment of diagnosis, throughout treatment, and thereafter, cancer patients should have access to an expert to guide them through the healthcare system. Patient navigators support cancer patients to ensure that they receive high quality treatment and support starting at the time of diagnosis.
Patient navigation can eliminate barriers to care, including:
“You are the Key.” In order to prevent cancer, according the CDC’s education campaign, all of us can take numerous key steps to increase our chances of stopping cancer before it starts. One excellent example is the HPV vaccine.