Bayhealth was recently awarded a $125,000 grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware (Highmark Delaware) to support the programs and initiatives it offers to patients of its Emergency Department (ED) and Cancer Center – and, to a greater extent, the local community – to improve their health, experiences and overall quality of life.
“This grant will help keep Bayhealth in partnership with other healthcare providers in the area and offset some of the costs associated with the services and resources offered through the ED and Cancer Nurse Navigator Programs, which are critically important to patients and the greater community,” said Bayhealth Foundation President Lindsay Rhodenbaugh.
Bayhealth navigators play an integral role supporting patients through all aspects of their care and the impact their health conditions can have on their daily lives. The cancer nurse navigators, for example, make sure patients are comfortable with their treatments; provide transportation if necessary; help obtain durable medical equipment; and even reach out to military family members overseas to make sure patients have all the support they need. They also participate in community outreach such as conducting free cancer screenings for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
“We’re able to help the patient in different ways than they would expect,” explained Linda Marvel, BSN, RN, who has been a cancer nurse navigator at Bayhealth Milford Memorial for nearly three years. “We don’t administer the chemo or radiation; instead, we help them in every other aspect of their life. For instance, we get them the nutrition they need, set up appointments and help pay their bills. We’re essentially right there helping them through it all.”
“We are a patient’s ‘go to’ person,” said Joanne Hutchison, RN, OCN, who has been a cancer nurse navigator at Bayhealth Kent General since July 2013. “What we do as navigators in the Cancer Center is basically a mix of social work and nursing. For example, there was a patient who essentially had nothing. We took care of the patient, but also got the children what they needed to go to school, put food on their table, and provided whatever else we could to make everyone as comfortable as possible.”
“A special relationship is created between nurse navigators and their patients,” added Renee Simpson, RN, Bayhealth cancer nurse navigator. “We see patients at their first visit, often when they are receiving a brand new diagnosis. We are a resource they can utilize for navigating a very difficult process, as well as for emotional support throughout their treatment.”
While the cancer navigators are nurses, the ED navigator is a social worker who guides patients to resources that will help them establish care outside of the emergency room.
“The biggest patient population I work with are those who are either uninsured, don’t have a primary care physician, and/or rely on the ED for regular care,” explained Alysha McLaurin, MSW, who has been the ED navigator at Bayhealth Kent General since January 2016 and worked as a social worker with Bayhealth’s Care Management department for a little more than two years prior. “I meet with patients to find out why they don’t have insurance and get them set up with community resources to help them obtain coverage so that they may receive care outside of the ED. For those without a primary care physician, I typically help them find one within three to five days if they are facing a more serious, chronic illness and within a week if it isn’t as urgent.”
McLaurin has also been instrumental in establishing Bayhealth’s “Familiar Faces” initiative, in which she works with the other ED staff and patients who are high utilizers of the ED to get the patients what they need to change that pattern of behavior. In the first year, they were able to reduce this patient population’s visits to the ED by about 50 percent.
“Highmark Delaware’s support of our navigator programs and services continues our more than 30 year partnership, and we are extremely grateful for their support,” said Bayhealth Foundation Director of Development Chuck Desch.
“Highmark Delaware is honored to continue our support of Bayhealth and their successful navigator programs,” said Highmark Delaware President Tim Constantine. “As partners in healthcare, we are working towards the same goal: access to quality, affordable care for patients. The navigator programs have a proven track record of getting patients to the right care at the right time in the right setting. We are proud to continue our long partnership with Bayhealth and support this vital program.”
Visit bayhealth.org to learn more about Bayhealth and the programs and services it offers to the community.
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