Monday February 11, 2008
Let's Go Positive on This Week's Show
After a couple of weeks talking about doctor and nurse competence, we thought it'd be nice to go positive. This week, White Coat, Black Art brings you three fixes to some age old problems in the health care system. I wanted to highlight one fix.
Imagine you're told you have cancer. Your mind is reeling...and that's exactly the moment when you're supposed to navigate a myriad of tests and appointments and treatment choices. What you need is someone to help you figure out the system. On this week's show, we meet Joanne Cumminger, a patient navigator from Nova Scotia. She's paid by the province to help people like Emma Stewart to find their way through the system. Check out our interview with Joanne and Emma on this week's show.
Quebec and Nova Scotia are the only provinces with comprehensive patient navigator programs. There are some pilot programs in other areas of the country, but they're not available everywhere. To find out if there's one where you live, contact your provincial cancer care agency. Here are some links:
Canadian Cancer Society Toll free Information Services:
Aboriginal languages: 1-888-261-4673
English or French: 1-888-939-3333
Here's some food for thought. If patient navigators are such a great idea, why do you have to have cancer to get one? What about people with Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease, for that matter? Anyone with a complex disease and lots of treatment choices should have access to navigators.
What do you think?
Previous Comments (9)
Hello Brian: I love your show and wonder if you could do a show on dying in hospital. I watched my brother die of an illness two years ago and now my Mom is dying of cancer. I have the greatest respect for her caregivers, but I am still struggling because I often get the data, but not the heart of the decision.
It must be hard for doctors and nurses to deal with patients and with family of dying patients.
I would be most interested in learning more about who does it well and how the rest of us can improve.
Your fan, Kathy Cambpell
I wouldn't go to any of the agencies you've listed for safe and patient-oriented cancer information. Every one of them is bought and paid for by the cancer industry.Riki, February 11, 2008 10:05 PM
I am actually involved in an acute care hospital setting in BC where we are called Clinical Diagnostic Navigator but same type of idea-we provide the bookings and co-ordination for all patients referred. Works great for our out of town patients so they spend the least amount of time away from home. Once we contact them they have our number and tell them to call us with any questions and we can find the answers if we are unsure. I am a registered nurse working with a booking clerk.Mary-Ann, February 13, 2008 6:48 PM
I love the idea of patient navigators to assist people in dealing with the myriad problems attending critical illness. The story on Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital was inspiring too. I think the common thread in these stories is simple caring. The cancer patients and the emerg patients are given the attention they need in a timely manner because staff cares enough to find out what their needs are and meet them. I had a minor but uncomfortable and invasive procedure at a major downtown hospital recently. The nurses I encountered were pleasant but not very caring or attentive - my call bell was out of reach, I endured 12 hours of having nothing by mouth as my procedure was delayed and I developed a severe migraine that I had difficulty getting medication for. I'm a psychiatric nurse in an emergency department and I appreciate how busy nurses are these days. I think some of us look down on simple acts of caring (eg mouth care for a patient who is allowed nothing by mouth for many hours) as being beneath highly trained professionals. I think we all, docs and nurses, need to get back to basic principles.Sarah Reynolds, February 15, 2008 9:07 PM
I sent an email in haste last Monday Re: young nurses comments re:senior nurses.Nursing is in crisis for sure,all the more reason to open up schools of nursing.I did not want to be so neg. of young nurses from University level;problem is that they don't get enough hands on and when they graduate takes them a couple of yrs. to catch up.They do have mentors now which certainly will help.Enjoy your program very much.
The role as patient navigator describes perfectly the role I carried out in England as a clinical nurse specialist in the Colo-Rectal Surgery division of a National Health Hospital from 1998 to 2001. I escorted newly diagnosed cancer patients through the health care system from diagnosis through surgery, chemo and radiation therapies and followup. I was there as an advocate , support and information resource for these patients and their families. It was a dream job for me and an essential support for these patients.
On returning to Ontario in 2001 I was disappointed that such a role doesn't exist here. The Brits are way ahead of us in recognizing what the skills and experience of a nurse can provide as an adjunct to traditional medical care.
I see so many patients drifting about aimlessly after receiving their cancer diagnosis and do what I can to provide some support but I would love to have the opportunity to do this in a recognized role within the health care system in Ontario.
I frequently approach doctors with this concept but I feel that they are threatened by the concept of "just a nurse" providing what they consider their scope of practice.
Unfortunately the increased workload of most doctors prevents them from spending the time needed with this patients.
To me the concept of patient navigator is a "no-brainer" and thanks to the inspiration provided by the program I intend to actively persue this idea again.
Re the Feb 18 broadcast.
The problems for Family Physicians setting up a new practice and sometimes choosing not to care for a patient with multiple issues sounds like a matter to be addressed by the medical associations and the provincial health insurance folks. There must be a possible change in the funding of practice to make it worthwhile for the patients to be on a doctor's roster.
Yah I agree Mel. Cause like, we've totally buried that idea of physicians going into medicine to help people. And anyway, all those old people? some other doc already shredded the First Do No Harm dictum on them. They're wasted.
Bring on the healthy hordes who want vanity treatments, prescriptions to prevent disease, and who have all those untouched, useless organs. Yee haw!agree with mel, February 20, 2008 8:05 PM
Hi, I am one of the "young" nurses or new nurses soon, as i haven't graduated yet, but work on teaching unit as an Nursing Aide. This is the worst pay i have ever gotten, but the experience that i recieve is invaluable. It is true all of our new nurses are taking a couple of years to catch up. It is VERY obvious which new grads have taken the time to be underpaid but get experience and the grads that went from University to hospital....Somehow merging the University knowledge with the old school "hands on" method of learning should be brought together. That would be the ultimate program!!! My Grandma was a nurse that lived on hospital campus and was doing 8 hour buddy shifts in her FIRST year!!!! When it comes to nursing, but the tricks of the trade are JUST as important as the body mechanics.Jackie, March 17, 2008 2:34 PM