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Saint Joseph Mercy Health System

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Launches Program to Improve Outcomes in Cancer Care
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Nurse Navigator Program Supports Patients When a Cancer Diagnosis Strikes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is announcing the launch of a program designed to help promote early detection, treatment and follow-up cancer care services. A cancer diagnosis can be shocking and many patients become overwhelmed after hearing their treatment plan. Anxiety can be dramatically reduced when patients feel supported and guided through the process.

SJMHS’s nurse navigator program is designed to facilitate access to appropriate cancer care services, and support the patient throughout his or her journey with cancer.

“In recent years there has been notable progress in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, but navigating care in a large health care system can be challenging. Navigators help patients manage their care, while offering support and much needed resources,” said Kathy Kasperek-Korelis, director of oncology services for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. “For cancer, early and better access to quality care is critical to successful treatment.”

A concept pioneered by Dr. Harold P. Freeman, former national president of the American Cancer Society, nurse navigator programs work by assigning trained individuals to work with patients and guide them through and around barriers in the cancer care system. Saint Joseph Mercy Health System has committed to provide knowledgeable, and experienced cancer care nurses to see patients through this process

“I think of myself as an advocate, a counselor and a case manager rolled into one,” said Colleen Sweetland, a nurse navigator at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. “I am helping to ensure that all patients receive high quality care in a timely manner, so their experience is the best it can be.”

The navigators provide education and support, streamline and coordinate medical appointments and tests, and identify resources such as the Wellness Community and the American Cancer Society to assure that patients are aware and can access resources available to them in the community.

SJMHS currently has six staff working in the Office of Nurse Navigators. The group expects to communicate with more than 2,000 patients with newly diagnosed cancer within the first year of operation. To learn more about Saint Joseph Mercy Health System’s nurse navigator program or the cancer program at SJMHS, contact Colleen Sweetland at 734-712-5796.