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Published on June 08, 2011

Cancer Patients Receiving Timely Diagnosis and Treatment

June 8, 2011 

Jodi DiehlThe addition of a nurse patient navigator to the staff The Cancer Center at Kishwaukee Community Hospital has reduced the average time between a patient’s suspicious mammogram to a confirmed diagnosis to less than seven days; it had previously averaged 18.5 days. 

In 2009, the hospital’s Cancer Committee took steps to get the patient and physician a confirmed diagnosis more quickly, and created the new role of nurse patient navigator to provide support and coordinate the patient getting a speedier biopsy. Jodi Diehl, a certified oncology nurse, was hired.  

 “As a result of Diehl’s work, the average time from suspicious mammogram to confirmed diagnosis immediately dropped to 12 days in the first nine months of the program. For the past twelve months, it has averaged less than seven days,” said Debra Bemis, RN, MSN, director of Oncology Services for KishHealth System.

“Surgeons are calling her to navigate patients diagnosed in their offices who will eventually be treated at Kish Hospital to provide the support and education needed for these patients,” Bemis added.

The process improvement is also increasing the number of patients who are receiving breast cancer treatment at Kish Hospital or The Cancer Center, from 92 percent in 2008 to 95 percent in 2010.

Diehl recently received the health system’s Pillar Award for Service for the improvement she has fostered in patient and physician satisfaction. In her role as patient navigator, she provides support and education to patients and their families, coordinating appointments for follow-up and referral, ensuring timely diagnosis, and assisting in eliminating barriers to care. 

“Her efforts have resulted in increased quality of care for patients,” Bemis said.
She works closely with radiologists and physicians to provide seamless communication in caring for the patient, facilitating breast conferences with a surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologists, who meet jointly with the patient and family to discuss treatment options. She also arranges for transportation and addresses financial concerns of patients. 

“And since the process can be very emotional for patients who struggle with the fear and anxiety of a possible cancer diagnosis and often have many questions, Jodi takes the time to guide them through the process and answer their questions,” said Bemis.
“I don’t think I would have been able cope with my situation if it hadn’t been for the outstanding care and support I received from Jodi,” one patient said. 

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