has awarded grants totaling $175,000 to the American Cancer Society Eastern Division and Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS) to support comprehensive navigation services for patients with cancer both independently and as part of a collaborative effort among several hospitals in central New Jersey.
Several studies have linked patient navigation to improvements in patient outcomes and survival rates, particularly for patients with cancer. Navigation is viewed as an integral component of cancer services. Navigators help coordinate patients’ care and guide them to resources that can provide psychosocial support and address financial concerns, language or cultural issues, and day-to-day needs such as transportation.
The grant to PHCS supports the expansion of a successful patient navigation program at the system’s acute-care hospital, University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) in Plainsboro, N.J. The program was first piloted at UMCPP’s Breast Health Center in East Windsor, N.J., under the guidance of a breast health navigator, and also among UMCPP’s patients with lung and esophageal cancer. The move toward a Comprehensive Oncology Patient Navigation Program will expand navigation services to encompass all cancer patient categories at UMCPP’s Edward & Marie Matthews Center for Cancer Care.
The Matthews Center for Cancer Care at UMCPP regularly refers patients to the American Cancer Society, and the two jointly offer the “Look Good Feel Better” program. In addition, the Matthews Center for Cancer Care regularly offers collaborative programs with Cancer Support Community Central New Jersey and frequently refers patients to Cancer Care for counseling and psychosocial services.
PHCS used the Bristol-Myers Squibb grant to expand its patient navigation staff to include a full-time senior navigator at UMCPP, fund a patient orientation program and provide more materials to help patients better understand their diagnoses.
“We envision a program in which all patients who receive a cancer diagnosis at UMCPP [approximately 800 to 900 per year] and patients who are returning for cancer treatment [approximately 200 per year] will be routed through an integrated program in which they will be supported from inception to aftercare,” said Judy Neuman, CTR, director, Cancer Services, Edward & Marie Matthews Center for Cancer Care at UMCPP. “We believe that making this available to our patients will help them to better cope with their diagnoses and to better understand and manage their experiences through a complex healthcare system as they receive treatment.”