Carroll County Memorial Hospital announces Nurse Navigator Program

Amanda Riley, RN

Healthcare can be a complex path to follow. Even as healthcare providers, you can find yourself lost in the system. Imagine being a patient with a new or worsening diagnosis, trying to navigate to multiple appointments and facilities. It can be a daunting task for patients and their families.

Carroll County Memorial Hospital has implemented a new nurse navigator program, headed by Amanda Riley, RN, to assist patients through the journey between diagnosis and treatment shortening the timeframe.

Nurse navigators provide patient-centered care including timely guidance, support, resources and education regarding their current health status. A nurse navigator is the one point of contact for patients that have multiple clinicians and facilities.

Most navigator roles are disease and occasionally system-specific. The navigator role at CCMH will be designed specifically around patient and care team needs. This can be patients that have multiple facilities and providers, patients with a new life-altering diagnosis, and patients that may have barriers to receiving or following healthcare requirements.

Patients that are seen in the Emergency Department for a stroke or ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) are followed outside of our facility. With contacts at receiving facilities, the navigator is able to stay up to date with records, treatments received and the hospital course of these patients. Once these patients are ready for discharge, follow-up with Primary Care Provider (PCP), neurology, cardiology, further testing, and treatments such as occupational, physical, speech, and cardiac rehabilitation may be needed. The navigator is able to assist the patient in making and keeping these appointments.

Our surgical department now performs total hips, knees, and shoulders. These patients are scheduled prior to surgery for a day in which they have Primary Care Provider (PCP) clearance, labs, imaging, anesthesiology clearance, surgical education, meeting with the nutritionist, and a tour of a patient room. Patients are also scheduled for pre-op education and a home exercise program through physical therapy to help speed recovery time.

The vascular clinic at CCMH has brought more surgical procedures that require pre-op testing and follow-up as well. These patients, like our total joint surgeries, will be assisted from pre-op through recovery and follow-up appointments.

If you have heard of nurse navigators, it was most likely related to oncology. Navigators are utilized in oncology nationwide. At CCMH, the Navigator will work closely with PCP, nursing staff, and radiology from suspected or proven abnormal testing. Once abnormal testing has been obtained, the navigator makes contact with our oncologist, Dr. Mozayen, to determine any further labs or imaging needed. Many times these can be completed prior to the oncology consult within a couple of days. This can decrease the diagnosis to treatment time drastically. Once a treatment plan has been determined, the navigator will continue to follow the patient, making sure they are comfortable with treatments and all necessary resources are provided for the patient and family both inside and outside of our facility.

The goal for the nurse navigator is to improve the quality and timeliness of care, improve patient satisfaction, and ease staff burden for complex patients. As an advocate for the patient, family, and staff the navigator can make the complex healthcare journey manageable.