Story by: David Steen Martin on February 18, 2022
Getting a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis can cause anxiety and concern about treatment as well as about finding your way through a medical world that can seem alien at times. It would help if you had someone who knew their way around who was your advocate.
That’s why Andrea Rogers, R.N., BSN, is the multiple sclerosis nurse navigator at Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center.
She educates MS patients and helps them find MS clinic care and the resources they need.
“I just want to be able to make a difference in somebody’s life and make their journey a little bit easier,” said Andrea, who joined the three physicians, a dedicated pharmacist and two nurse practitioners on the multiple sclerosis team at Norton Neuroscience Institute in October 2021.
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According to Andrea, people newly diagnosed with MS are often anxious. The news can be upsetting. To help the patients, Andrea hosts MS 101, a virtual, on-demand program that covers the basics of MS: where it comes from, why it happens, how it impacts people’s lives and what can be done about it.
In addition to educating newly diagnosed patients about the disease, Andrea helps relapsing, remitting and primary progressive MS patients decide which of the 24 MS medications now approved is best for them.
Usually, according to Andrea, they will choose among the two or three medications the doctor has decided will work best with the patient’s disease, considering the side effects and how they might impact that person’s life.
Each of the medications is a little different in how it is administered, how effective it is, how well it is tolerated by the patient and how much it costs. If the drug’s cost is an issue for a patient, Andrea will work with drug companies and other resources to try to find financial assistance.
Because MS medications suppress the immune system, Andrea also works with patients on when they should get vaccines and on other issues related to medications. And she coaches
patients on how to cope with MS fatigue and other symptoms when patients are having a flare-up.
“The big thing is knowing your limits and not pushing yourself too hard,” Andrea said.
For example, if someone needs to do laundry in the middle of a flare-up, they should pace themselves, taking a break between each step of the process. If they need to chop vegetables in the kitchen, they can sit, instead of standing. They also can delegate to other members of the household.
Andrea, who has lived in the Louisville area most of her life, has always been interested in science and medicine. She began college studying pre-med, but decided she wanted a position in health care that was more hands-on and switched to nursing.
She received her bachelor’s degree at Murray State University in Kentucky and is close to completing a Master of Science in nursing, executive leadership concentration, at Northern Kentucky University.
“I love learning. I’m all about personal growth,” Andrea said.
When she’s not working or studying, Andrea likes spending time at her Oldham County home with her 6-year-old daughter. She also likes gardening, cooking and hiking.
Before becoming the MS nurse navigator, Andrea worked with heart patients in the medical/surgical and cardiac progressive care units and in the neurological intensive care unit. She was also a clinical instructor at Bellarmine University.
As a nurse navigator, Andrea serves as the point person for patients when questions or concerns come up.
“If I can’t help them, I can at least point them in the right direction,” Andrea said.
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