This month, we’ll be taking a closer look at the mission of the Parkview Breast Care Team as their work relates to the prevention, treatment and recovery of breast cancer cases in our community and beyond.
The Parkview Cancer Institute is meant to ease stress. Our goal is to make healing as easy as possible by eliminating the need for patients to seek treatment and services at multiple locations throughout the region.
Everything we do at the Parkview Cancer Institute is designed with a patient-centered approach. Patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer are immediately connected with a nurse navigator who specializes in breast cancer. Nurse navigators meet with patients within 48 hours of their diagnosis.
The navigator can help answer questions regarding topics such as transportation, check-in/visit location, coordination of visits or caring for their port. They can follow the patient to initial appointments, anticipate patient needs and provide feedback to the Breast Care Team on how to improve the process from the patient’s perspective. They also interact and coordinate care with the social worker, psychologist, dietitian, financial counselors and others, making sure the patient and their family receive concierge care.
With increasing complexities and a variety of options in the diagnosis, staging, treatment, and follow up of cancer patients, we need to provide a direct central line of communication for each patient and their family. The nurse navigator fulfills this need.
Each navigator is carefully selected for the role by the cancer institute. They go through shadowing, training and then become incorporated into a designated tumor site (in this case, breast care). The advantage to this approach, is that the navigators get to know both physician specialists/care providers as well as the process of that tumor site.
From the patient’s perspective, regardless of what phase of care they are in, they always have a common face smiling back and answering basic questions each step of the way. The navigators are present for discussion at tumor board and often understand practical aspects that need to be considered when creating a multi-disciplinary treatment plan, such as if the patient has a walker or limitations due to location/transport/finances.
It truly takes a unique individual with special attributes to fulfill the role of nurse navigator. They have to have the background medical knowledge of nursing, the ability to work with a variety of physicians within the tumor site, the ability to coordinate care across offices and the health system, and the accessibility required by the patients and their families. With that said, what truly distinguishes a nurse navigator from other care providers is their ability to empathize and care for the families on a personal level as they go through their respective journey. The nurse navigators are the face of the cancer institute, and have the ability to provide a special level of care that goes beyond what has ever been seen before at most regional cancer centers.
Treating cancer is complex. The Parkview Cancer Institute’s dedicated team of specialized physicians and care providers is here to help provide the best possible experience. From cutting-edge technologies to nutrition and holistic care, we tailor each journey to you.
When surgery is required, our breast surgeon, Dr. Linda Han, PPG — Oncology, offers the latest minimally invasive surgical options to preserve the maximum amount of healthy breast tissue. Dr. Han also uses the newest resorbable radiofrequency markers to help focus radiation therapy for improved treatment. For patients with early-stage breast cancer, Dr. Han uses the region’s only cryotherapy technology to freeze early-stage breast cancers.
Surgical patients may also participate in a special program called Enhanced Recovery after surgery. This program combines education and nutritional therapy to reduce the recovery time after surgery.
When chemotherapy is required, our medical oncologist, Dr. Ellen Szwed, PPG — Oncology, specializes in breast cancer to offer the latest advances in treatment options.