Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Twitter led me to the STAT news article: 

 In a Byzantine health system, navigators help at-risk patients find their way

Interesting article with many good stories of extreme help some navigators may provide, and times they seem to go beyond business as usual.  Also a bit about widely varied training for this position (the training part was a little uncomfortable for me since I've had a social worker or two who only seemed to be working on hours for their senior year college internship.)

This field can have many different definitions, and the navigators may have wide functions.  Headlines don't always tell it all:  I haven't interviewed the local navigator, but she did introduce herself at the lumpectomy surgeon's office and invite us to some educational lunch meetings for breast cancer patients and perhaps some 'survivors' still in treatment or with issues like lymph problems after surgery.

I loved the stories about navigators helping patients with little or no English.  However, facile English speaker patients are mentioned.  We who speak English can be permanently lost in giant hospitals with lousy signage if any.

ONe danger of the system was mentioned, and it's a va.lid  one:  patients, because of the wide varieyty of navigator duties may (easily) gget the ideea that the navigator is a medical professional (often not so.)  

Even our own doctor may be unaware of our hospital's navigator, if there is one, or the navigator's duties or expertise.

I suggest, if you ask for a navigator, be clear on what you want.  If one approaches you, or the hospital sends one, we can ask politely "Is she a cancer nurse?  What will she plan to do for me?"

As I read the article, I learned a lot of things the navigators sometimes do.  

Any way, it's a good read.  And worth knowing about - Even a friend may sometime ask us about them.  

PS  My wonderful NP Carol Hennessey was a perfect navigator for me when she helped me plot which doctor visit first, second, third.  And since I still use the great cream she prescribed. 

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