Story by: Rebecca Hall on January 10, 2020
Deborah Pirtle, R.N., oncology patient navigator with Norton Cancer Institute, firmly believes that one day there will be a cure for cancer. Until then, she is dedicated to advocating for her patients.
“Every person has a goal for cancer treatment that is personal to them,” Deborah said. “I want to make sure their voice is heard.”
Deborah lost her brother to head and neck cancer when he was only 50 years old. According to Deborah, that experience gave her a unique perspective, because it put her in the caregiver role both inside and outside of the work setting.
Deborah has an interest in palliative care – a multidisciplinary approach to address patients’ emotional, physical, spiritual, cultural and social needs. Deborah is interested in palliative care to provide patients with the most effective symptom management possible.
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Deborah works in Southern Indiana with the Norton Cancer Institute Pat Harrison Resource Center, in partnership with Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana. According to Deborah, there is a small-town atmosphere.
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“People here are very connected to their community and to their community hospital,” Deborah said. “Jeffersonville is a very inclusive community where people go out of their way to help when there is a need.”
She’s learned that compassion is the most important aspect of patient care, and that even a small, kind act can have a lasting impact on a patient and his or her family.
“A few days ago, I received a card in the mail from a patient’s family member,” Deborah said. “The patient moved to Ohio to live with his sister and receive hospice care. However, the family found out they were without a hospice provider because the patient no longer had insurance. I was able to connect the patient’s family with a not-for-profit hospice organization who provided great care.
“After the patient passed away, his sister sent a note thanking me for my help when she didn’t know what to do. It seemed like such a small thing, but it was huge for this family.”
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