Patient navigator assists patients in charting clear path between caring for the body and caring for the spirit
As an oncology-certiﬁed nurse, Gina Morrison, R.N., has learned there are two sides to cancer care — the side ﬁghting cancer cells in the body and the side taking care of a person’s heart and spirit. Cancer patients can get lost navigating the path between the two.
That’s where Gina comes in. After three years working on an inpatient surgical cancer unit, she now serves Norton Cancer Institute as a patient navigator. She is one of 21 patient navigators who help individuals and their families.
This team of navigators works with patients who face all manner of cancer. Gina specializes in patients ages 18 to 39 who are in treatment, or those who have completed treatment as children and are making the transition to adult cancer care. She also works some with adults who are survivors of any type of cancer.
“For many, when they get a cancer diagnosis, it’s like they are in a fog. They are overloaded with information and it takes time to process it,” she said. “It’s rewarding to be able to take care of these patients on a different level — to lead them out of the fog.”
Do you or a loved one need help navigating a cancer diagnosis or the journey as a survivor? Get in touch with a patient navigator.
Gina ﬁnds that introducing people to support services in a less intimidating, more social environment helps them open up, relax and feel more comfortable than they might in a doctor’s ofﬁce. They can more easily ask questions that may not be speciﬁcally about their treatment but have been weighing on their minds.
Sometimes it can be especially difficult for young adult cancer survivors to find a provider who understands their unique circumstances. When they have a health need, sometimes physicians may be reluctant to treat them due to their past cancer diagnosis. Many patients need guidance on where to turn for the right kind of care. Gina helps them avoid feeling lost in the health care system.
“I also create and facilitate educational and social programs, and I am available to answer questions or offer guidance — anything from how to create a will and testament to where to connect with others who have been through similar experiences,” Gina said.