PERTH AMBOY – February 15, 2012 — Raritan Bay Medical Center (RBMC), with locations in Old Bridge and Perth Amboy, NJ, has joined select hospitals around the nation that are employing nurse navigators to assist patients and coordinating their care. As healthcare continues to evolve in its complexity, and with the myriad of physician specialists and treatment options available, nurse navigators can play an important role in helping patients make informed medical decisions, understand treatment and by providing emotional support. As suggested in their title, nurse navigators guide patients and their families through their healthcare experience at RBMC, providing an overview of services and facility locations, explaining diagnosis’s, scheduling visits, providing advice and following up to support patients after they leave the medical center. The goals of the nurse navigator coincide with RBMC’s national Magnet nursing status and the Patient Family Centered Care Model followed by the medical center.
RBMC’s specialty services, the Human Motion Institute (HMI), Institute for Weight Loss and Center for Women currently employ nurse navigators who share common goals but have unique perspectives derived from their specialties. As navigator for HMI, a program providing comprehensive musculoskeletal healthcare, Clare Schuld, RN, BSN, ONC, is focused on coordinating care for patients during initial referral from acute injury or elective surgery through postoperative physical therapy and return to normal function. She works in cooperation with physicians and a multidisciplinary team to schedule patient appointments, provide preoperative education and community outreach and serve as a liaison between patients and the entire HMI healthcare team. “Our patients are taught how to prepare for surgery, what they can expect and the daily goals they need to accomplish throughout their entire surgical stay to help ensure the best clinical outcomes,” says Schuld. “Also important, I track and review patient outcomes with our specialized teams to reduce complication rates and enhance care.”
Center for Women navigator Melissa Scholz’s, RN, BSN, BHN, CBPN-IC, role encompasses more of a preventative and educational aspect in line with the Center’s focus on women’s specific healthcare needs and goal of early diagnosis of cancer. She provides comprehensive and holistic care to patients receiving their first mammogram to those diagnosed with breast cancer. During treatment Scholz ensures patient’s needs are being met from diagnosis to survivorship; providing education, support, resources and referrals and advocacy services to patients and their families. “I believe in reducing fear and anxiety by providing empowerment through education, providing a non-judgmental ear to listen and shoulder to cry on for support, and overall just helping people get through a difficult time as life is hard enough without cancer or a cancer scare,” says Scholz. “The best part of my job is interacting with patients on a personal level and guiding them to the other side of a difficult journey.” Additionally, she provides community education and promotes good breast health practices and breast cancer awareness to people of all ages and cultures within the community.
Maureen Ali, RN, BSN, works to customize services as part of the Institute for Weight Loss, which encompasses a wide range of treatment options from state-of-the-art minimally invasive surgical (called bariatric) weight loss options to non-surgical medical weight loss. Maureen explains the benefits and concerns associated with each bariatric surgical option as well as conservative options and coordinates nutrition education, lifestyle counseling and ongoing support with the Institute’s multidisciplinary team. “No matter which option ends up being right for the patient, my ultimate goal is to ensure their good health and healthy weight loss,” says Ali. “We all work to create a personalized treatment program for our patients, combining bariatric or medical intervention with a lifetime commitment to healthy eating, exercise and follow-up care and support.” She also follows strict guidelines to ensure that bariatric options are explored with patients only when appropriate.
The nurse navigators have not only had a profound positive effect coordinating care across the medical center’s healthcare continuum and linking staff, but also have been a great source of satisfaction with patients and their families during their stay or experience at RBMC.