Patient Navigators Help Cancer Patients - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Patient Navigators Help Cancer Patients

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Even with advances in Cancer care and treatment over the decades, a diagnosis of that illness is still a very difficult and scary news to receive.

"It's an entire grief process, from sheer disbelief to sheer sadness," said Dr. Marty Lucas with St. Vincent Healthcare.

Local hospitals, however, have a dedicated team of professionals to help people in those initial hours of need. St. Vincent Healthcare's Breast Center has a patient navigator on staff to help those diagnosed with Cancer.

"When ladies come into the Breast Center to get their Mammogram, when their mammogram doesn't look good, I get to meet the patient right then," said Ella Dugan-Laemmle, the patient navigator at St. V's. "Help them go through the treatment process, as far as scheduling appointments, and then being there for their support system."

Ella said in the past, the first days and weeks after a Cancer diagnosis are often difficult for a patient.

"People don't even know how to breathe, once they have a diagnosis of Cancer," said Ella. "People had to do this all by themselves, and didn't have that support system, or the counselors there for them or their families."

St. V's has a navigator program for four and a half years. Meanwhile, Billings Clinic also has a similar program, with support from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Lucas said a navigator is very important to the patient during the Cancer treatment process.

"The navigator becomes a very close friend to the patient. One they know is going to be there to answer the questions, to make sure that a piece doesn't get missed," said Dr. Lucas. She went on to say that navigators are also very helpful in a doctor's duty.

"We lean on them too, " said Dr. Lucas. "If we know someone needs something, we can call them and say 'hey, we need you to check on this person or this family.'"

"I love being able to be with the patient at the very frontline, to be there and to help them," said Ella.