In a health care system where there are numerous services, resources and care providers, keeping track of where to go and who to see can often be an overwhelming experience. Now, for patients and families with esophageal or stomach cancer a new service is available to help coordinate care.
“With the introduction of my role, patients can expect help with their appointment preparation, consultations and streamlined access to care.,” says Jennifer Pereira, Patient Navigator for the Esophagogastric Diagnostic Assessment Program (EDAP). “Essentially, I act as the single point-of-contact for patients through their care journey.”
As a Patient Navigator, Jennifer works closely with the entire health care team on behalf of the patient and their family during the diagnostic phase of the care journey. Her focus are patients dealing with esophageal, gastroesophageal junction and stomach cancer, which fall under the term esophagogastric cancer.
Patients with these types of cancers can remain in the diagnostic phase of their care journey for several months as a result of the numerous and often complex diagnostic requirements. This can mean many appointments and visits with care providers, which can be overwhelming for patients and their families.
“This is a stressful and anxious time for patients, and through this role, not only can I help with timely coordination but it can also help alleviate distress and anxiety for patients knowing that their care needs are being dealt with in a timely manner.”
The benefit of now having a Patient Navigator for these patients is not only a huge help for patients and families, but for the care team as well.
“For patients with esophageal and stomach cancer, they see numerous medical experts who are each focused on their specialty in delivering patient care”, says Dr. Wiley Chung, a general and thoracic surgeon at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. “The Patient Navigator is able to see the big picture and tie all of these care needs together to ensure that each specialty is meeting their timelines in collaboration with one another.”
The Patient Navigator role has already been established at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario for the lung and colorectal cancer Diagnostic Assessment Programs. The success of these roles helped inform the design of the Esophagogastric Patient Navigator role.
“By building on the success of the other programs, my hope is that we will become the leading centre in the country for esophageal and stomach cancer management,” says Dr. Chung. “This starts at ground zero with good patient care and mechanisms to deliver it, of which a Patient Navigator is crucial. Through this role, we are eliminating barriers to care.”